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A prof has resigned from Bethel College

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At the Daily Beast, Karl Giberson tells us,

In a story becoming all too familiar, another pro-evolution faculty member has been forced to leave his evangelical institution. Jim Stump, longtime professor of philosophy, productive scholar, and popular, award-winning teacher at Bethel College in Indiana, resigned his position in June because of pressures put on the college by its sponsoring denomination, the Missionary Church.

The issue, once again, was evolution. Most members of the Missionary Church reject Darwin’s theory of evolution in favor of a literal interpretation of the creation story in the Book of Genesis. But many faculty members at Bethel College accept evolution and consider it part of their “teaching ministry” to help their students do the same, within the context of their faith. Such divergences exist in most evangelical denominations that sponsor liberal arts colleges but as long as faculty members are clearly evangelical in their faith the tensions are often manageable and an uneasy peace can be maintained.

First, it would help if Christians for Darwin groups were completely discredited, as they deserve to be, in these times of ferment around Darwinism.

Predictably, we are told,

Deborah Haarsma, the president of BioLogos, describes the organization she leads as “disheartened” by developments that put Stump “in the painful situation of having to choose between the scholarship to which he feels called and the academic community to which he has belonged for decades.” More.

Yes, this is all painful. But it raises a couple of questions: First, didn’t the guy notice after all these years how his denomination felt about these matters? Stump should be free to follow whatever scholarship he feels called to. But it doesn’t follow he can teach at an institution explicitly committed to a different vision.

What if I, a Catholic, were teaching at a Jehovah’s Witness institution, and promoting the views of the Catholic Church instead of those of the JWs? What should I reasonably expect to happen?

That is just the market functioning the way it is supposed to.

The many ID theorists driven out of institutions are actually in a quite different position from Stump: Their institutions accept the tax or donation dollar claiming that they do not support metaphysical naturalism in principle. But then it turns out they do, when anyone challenges them on an evidence or probability basis!

(At some Christian schools, you can holler all you want for Jesus, as long as it doesn’t make any sense.)

They just don’t want that to be generally known. Bethel was laudably clear as to what the institution exists to affirm.

If Stump is as good a prof as—so one gathers—he is, there should be no shortage of institutions happy to grab him.

See also: Theologian Peter Enns talks about why BioLogos did not renew his contract

and

Bill Dembski on the Evolutionary Informatics Lab – the one a Baylor dean tried to shut down (See Holler for Jesus as long as it makes no sense.)

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81 Replies to “A prof has resigned from Bethel College

  1. 1
    Seversky says:

    If an educational institution respects academic integrity then, in science, it should be teaching what is the current thinking in a given field, not what is judged to be theologically or politically acceptable. I see no difference between a Christian college such as Bethel suppressing discussion of the theory of evolution and political regimes such as the communists who suppressed any views they held to be not consonant with their ideology. Private colleges and universities have the right to teach whatever they like within the law – a freedom they probably would not grant to others if they held political power – but they forfeit any respect for their scholarship in science if what is good is decided by the clerical rather than the scientific community.

  2. 2
    News says:

    Seversky at 1, the point is that the taxpayer is not supporting them and they cannot compel non-believers to listen. Who is thought to have integrity by whomever else is quite a different matter.

  3. 3
    Virgil Cain says:

    Seversky- No one seems to be able to find this alleged “theory of evolution” so why teach it?

  4. 4
    Mung says:

    Second, it would help if Christians for YEC groups were completely discredited, as they deserve to be.

  5. 5
    Virgil Cain says:

    Yes, the 6,000 year old earth crap is beyond the pale.

  6. 6
    Dr JDD says:

    Don’t worry, I’m sure the very first thing you can ask God when you stand before Him is “why did you make the universe look so old and the Bible so literal?”

  7. 7
    Mapou says:

    The 6000 year-old earth crap used to be a Catholic idea but has since become the sole property of fundamentalist Protestant Churches. However, Catholics retain a monopoly on the old doctrine according to which your sins are not forgiven until some dude in a robe who doesn’t like having sex with women says so. And then you must say “thank you, father” even though the dude can’t have children because, again, he hates having sex with women. The whole thing can be hilarious at times. LOL.

  8. 8
    Virgil Cain says:

    Dr JDD- I wouldn’t ask that as I don’t think the Bible literally says the universe and earth are 6,000 years old. A 6,000 year old earth is an interpretation of the Bible.

  9. 9
    Dr JDD says:

    Virgil – YEC is not the same as literally believing the earth is 6000 years old. It believes a young earth given genealogy but many do not believe we cannot derive from that the exact age of the earth.

    However where YECs and others disagree will be generally how long creation took – eg. 6 literal days or millions of years. It also takes a more literal interpretation of other parts of the Bible eg. death was the result of man’s sin. That alone (plus Jesus’ view on Adam and also the Torah and the Prophets) should cause question over the plausibility of long ages for the creation week days. This YEC is primary about the literal nature of the creation week.

    And it’s not a Catholic only “tradition”…

  10. 10
    Mapou says:

    And it’s not a Catholic only “tradition”…

    It does not matter. It’s all crap. The talking snake should have been a strong clue.

  11. 11
    mugwump3 says:

    Firstly, generational history in the Bible did not presume strict back-to-back generations, thus, the attempt to date the generations is and always has been a product of a misguided understanding of lineage. Hundreds and even thousands of years may come between the “BEGATS.” The purpose behind lists of generations was not to put a time stamp on the age of the universe or the planet. And, failing to differentiate between literal and allegory, modern interpretations ironically fail to understand the difference even in light of our own use of both in modern writing.

    Secondly, YEC is a product of a failure to understand historical writing styles. The “literal” meaning of the authors is completely different from the literal interpretations of modern pseudo-scholarship. The creation week has no textual imperative for a literal week. The days are certainly open and, indeed, conducive to an earth-centric chronology…observability paired with a sequence of events.
    All too often, it seems the only two options given to a believer in the inerrancy of scripture are the false YEC and the tossing out of the baby with YEC bath water…leaving the intended understanding stuck in the abyss between in the excluded middle.

  12. 12
    reverendspy says:

    seversky>1..I see no difference between a Christian college such as Bethel suppressing discussion of the theory of evolution and political regimes such as the communists who suppressed any views they held to be not consonant with their ideology. Private colleges and universities have the right to teach whatever they like within the law – a freedom they probably would not grant to others if they held political power – but they forfeit any respect for their scholarship in science if what is good is decided by the clerical rather than the scientific community.

    ..So I assume you believe then that YECs are at least as dangerous as say Nazi’s, or communists, or maybe the taliban or isis. I see hateful comparisons like this repeated over again on forum after forum and I think its a shame.
    Now as far as “respect for their scholarship in science”
    I have an honest question. how much has the theory of common descent actually contributed to true advancement in technology or science or medicine? People say that without TOE we would still be living in the dark ages, I don’t buy the argument but maybe I’m wrong, so Some examples please.
    I really want to know.

  13. 13
    anthropic says:

    mugwump 11

    Well said. One issue is that the Bible follows ancient Near Eastern textual traditions, which are not the same as modern traditions. You simply cannot translate to English and take the most natural interpretation FOR US as necessarily authoritative. Context, style, history, and intended audience are imperative considerations.

    For example, why does Genesis 1 talk about evening and morning as one day, rather than morning and evening? This appears aimed at refuting Egyptian religious teachings that the cosmos somehow ended when the sun went down, only to be renewed at sunrise. After all, the sun was a god!

    It’s easy to forget that Genesis 1 was written to Jews who had been in Egypt for hundreds of years and undoubtedly had been influenced thereby. The intended audience is a crucial part of the context!

  14. 14
    Mapou says:

    Not to mention the fact that Genesis is a compilation of many different stories, records and genealogies. “Adam” in one story may not be the same as “Adam” in another.

    What bothers me about YECs is how selective they are in their literal interpretations. Genesis clearly indicates that there were many Gods (the Elohim talked among themselves) who created the universe and life on earth. Later, other Elohim came down to earth because they thought we were hot. Some became gods of the other nations (Egypt, Babylon, Assyria, etc.) It clearly says that the Gods (Yahweh Elohim) regretted having created mankind. Yet, YEC doctrine is that there is only one God and he is infinitely powerful and knowledgeable. In addition, God is male and there is no female God around. What’s up with that?

    I speak as a Christian who does not believe that salvation comes from any Church.

  15. 15
    DebianFanatic says:

    mgwump3 @ 11 says

    The creation week has no textual imperative for a literal week.

    Yet the text repeatedly says that each day consisted of an evening and a morning.

    Further, each day is numbered, which almost always in the Hebrew scriptures refers to literal days.

    In Exodus 20:11, YHWH tells the nation of Israel to work a six-day week and rest on the seventh day, because God had created everything in six days and then rested on the seventh. Unless God changes the definition of “day” mid-breath, twice, in this passage, the day of Israel’s work-week is the same as the day of Creation week.

    Are these arguments conclusive? No. Are they compelling? I believe so. I see no internal reason for denying that the days of Creation are not literal solar periods of approximately 24 hours each.

    Whether the cosmos (including humanity) came into existence in a six-day period is a separate question from what the text actually says. It is my conclusion that the text actually says “Yes”, regardless of what external sources (geologists, astronomers, etc) claim.

    mugwump3 also writes:

    Hundreds and even thousands of years may come between the “BEGATS.”

    Again, I see no internal evidence for this. In both the Genesis 5 and Genesis 11 chronologies, the very first generation establishes a pattern of the meaning of the age of fathering.

    In Gen 5:3, Adam is 130 when he fathers Seth. We know there are no skipped generations here because 4:25 tells us that Seth is born from Eve as a result of Adam “knowing” Eve.

    We also know that the next generation does not skip any generations, as again, chapter 4, verse 26, enlightens us that Enosh was born to Seth, and that Seth named Enosh.

    We see the same pattern established in the first geneology of chapter 11, verse 10, where we’re told that Arpachshad was born to Shem two years after the flood, when Shem was 100 years old.

    These numbers mean something. There is no textual reason to assume they mean anything except what they say. The only reason to assume they mean something else is to resolve the contradiction the text has with external thinking concerning historical ages.

    Mapou says in 14:

    Not to mention the fact that Genesis is a compilation of many different stories, records and genealogies. “Adam” in one story may not be the same as “Adam” in another.

    Yes, and No. I recommend googling “tablet theory of Genesis”. In short, there are internal clues that Moses compiled ancient clay tablets, written by eyewitnesses to the accounts in Genesis, into a single narrative. Moses cites these tablets as he goes, such as in Gen 5:1 wherein he reports that the material he writes here comes from “the book of the generations of Adam.” Another example is that in the middle of Jacob’s family records we have a “sidebar” of Esau’s family records (Gen 36), just after Jacob and Esau have an opportunity to catch up on each others’ lives when they meet up after years of being apart.

    It seems to me that most claims against the literal historicity of Genesis are motivated by attempts to “explain away” what the text actually says, rather than to simply accept the text as it is, regardless of how well it dovetails into external considerations.

  16. 16
    DebianFanatic says:

    testing blockquote 2

    testing blockquote 3

  17. 17
    anthropic says:

    Debian, I sympathize with your points. However, it seems to me that you gloss over the fact that interpretations do change based on new data.

    For example, do you believe the Earth moves? Just about all Bible believers now affirm this concept, yet for many centuries it was thought that the Bible taught otherwise. In fact, a fellow named Galileo got in hot water with the Church over exactly this issue.

    Chapter and verse:

    1 Chronicles 16:30 “Fear before him, all the earth: the world also shall be stable, that it be not moved.”

    Psalm 93:1 “The LORD reigneth, he is clothed with majesty; the LORD is clothed with strength, wherewith he hath girded himself: the world also is stablished, that it cannot be moved”

    Psalm 96:10 “Say among the heathen that the LORD reigneth: the world also shall be established that it shall not be moved: he shall judge the people righteously.”

    Psalm 104:5 “Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.”

    Now you have a choice, Debian. You can say that these scriptures have changed in the last few centuries — except they haven’t — or you can say that science has shown that the old interpretation was incorrect — or you can claim that despite all the evidence, the Earth does not move. Or, finally, you can say those scriptures were interpreted correctly but were erroneous.

    Which is it?

  18. 18
    kairosfocus says:

    Z, I notice and duly protest the invidious comparison between the Missionary Church and other Evangelicals and Nazism (which BTW pivoted on scientific racism and linked ideas tracing to Haeckel and other leading German Darwinists and their influence). That is utterly uncalled for projection and betrays a deep hostility and prejudice that smacks of bigotry and agendas that need to be exposed nd corrected. KF

  19. 19
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N:

    Some relevant clips — pardon OCR and PDF stuff, follow links if you wish:

    http://www.bethelcollege.edu/s.....stump.html

    >>James Stump

    James Brent Stump is a graduate of Bethel College (1991) with a B.A. degree in Math and Science Education. After graduation, he and his wife Christine taught at a boarding school in Sierra Leone, West Africa, until their abrupt evacuation due to political unrest. He then pursued Philosophy in graduate school, earning an M.A. from Northern Illinois University (1995) and a Ph.D. from Boston University (2000).

    Jim has been teaching back at Bethel since 1998. When the Philosophy major was first established, Jim served as its program director. In 2003 he was asked to be the interim Academic Dean, and then in 2004 was made Vice President for Academic Services. His sojourn into administration lasted until 2008, when he returned to the teaching faculty. Now, as a full Professor of Philosophy, he once again directs the Philosophy major.

    Jim generally teaches the upper-level Philosophy courses in Symbolic Logic, Modern Philosophy, and Theory of Knowledge, as well as Introduction to Philosophy and Logic and Critical Thinking in the general education core. He also offers History of Christian Thought in the graduate program.

    For three summers, 2003-2005, Jim was Fellow in the Templeton-Oxford Seminars on Science and Religion. There he worked on a project in the Philosophy of Mind which culminated in conference presentations and journal articles. Two more recent projects are Christian Thought: A Historical Introduction (Routledge, 2010), which he co-authored with Bethel colleague Chad Meister, and A Companion to Science and Christianity, which he co-edited with Alan Padgett of Luther Seminary. His current research continues in the exciting and sometimes contentious area of science and religion.

    Jim is a frequent speaker both in and outside of Bethel. He and his wife Chris have three boys—Casey, Trevor, and Connor. They value family and friends, good music, international experiences, sport, and books.>>

    http://www.bethelcollege.edu/v.....ation.html

    >>June 26, 2015
    Open Letter regarding Dr. Jim Stump and the Statement on Human Origins
    Constituents ofBethel College:
    Though curricula on Human Origins is a very small part of the college’s curriculum, the
    topic has become a prominent theological conversation for two years at Bethel and remains
    an important pedagogical point of clari?cation for evangelical Christian institutions of
    higher education. Trust and communication is signi?cant to every college community,
    especially on sensitive developments. See below a joint statement by Jim Stump, Ph.D. —
    a veteran, valued, and popular professor of philosophy and leader ofBethel’s Honor’s
    Program — and Gregg Chenoweth, Ph.D., president of Bethel College, which addresses Dr.
    Stump’s plan for altemate employment.
    Statement from Jim Stump_:
    I fully respect the right of the Bethel Board of Trustees to determine policies for the
    College. The recent “Educational Philosophy Statement on Origins,” adopted by the Board
    in June 2015, re?ects the will of the broader community of which Bethel is a part. In
    considering this corporate connnitment, I decided to resign from my position at Bethel in
    order to pursue alternate work, rather than remain under the new Statement and bring
    tension to the Bethel community.
    While there are recent reports in national media describing the dismissal of faculty at
    religious institutions over Origins, it should be clear that I initiated my own resignation;
    I was never asked to resign from Bethel College. In fact, many Bethel leaders have been
    extraordinarily supportive of me throughout this lengthy process of an’iving at the
    Statement.
    Bethel has been an important part ofmy life, and remains an effective institution for its
    students and faculty. I hope that anyone who feels concem for me will not view support for
    me and the College as mutually exclusive. I’m thankful for my time here, but believe God
    now directs me to other ways of serving the Kingdom. I have goodwill for Bethel and pray
    for God’s blessing on the institution.
    Sincerely,
    Ji tump, Ph.D.
    Department of Religion & Philosophy

    Statement from President Chenowethz

    Jim’s in?uence on our campus is signi?cant. Countless alumni and current students name Jim as one star
    in the constellation of their Bethel experience. I appreciate his professionalism and perspective in our
    many conversations throughout this complex process.
    I also wish to af?nn Bethel’s commitment to academic rigor within Christian context. While God
    certainly accepts and uses His people for great purposes regardless oftheir education, higher education
    intensi?es the effectiveness of the gospel in people and across the world. God clearly uses Christian
    colleges for strategic purposes (Acts 19:8-10). So, we will continue to love the Lord with our mind
    (Matthew 22:37) and explore the wonderful mystery that all things are created by God, both invisible and
    visible, and remain held together in Christ (Colossians 1:17). As we implement this education ministry,
    we proceed in con?dence that dispute is not the signpost of error. The fact is, Christian discipleship is
    sometimes a challenging process in taking every thought captive for Clnist (II Corinthians 10:5). We
    seek the blessing of God which comes from unity (Ps. 133), but do not naively demand unanimity.
    Looking into Fall 2015, one of Jim’s important contributions to our community has been leadership over
    the BUILD Honors Program. It will continue to be a robust academic landscape for students uniquely
    equipped for academic work. Barb Bellefeuille, Ed.D., vice president for academic services, now works
    with Jim and other faculty to determine an effective transition and to assign appropriate leadership for
    these students.
    In the gift of grace,
    Gregg Chenoweth, Ph.D.
    President, Bethel College
    P.S. Ifyou wish to read our Statement on Origins, go to BethelC0llege.edu/Believe, then click the Origins
    link.>>

    >>EDUCATIONAL PHILOSOPHY STATEMENT ON ORIGINS
    Bethel College

    Indiana
    June
    9
    , 2015
    Though a very small part of a college’s curriculum, the topic of origins has become a prominent
    theological conversation and an important pedagogical point of
    clarification for evangelical
    Christian institutions of higher education, including Bethel College.
    Bethel faculty and students come from various Christian denominations, and Bethel’s Academic
    Freedom Policy values a wide range of scholarship projects. O
    n Origins, while Bethel’s
    affiliation with the Missionary Church supports freedom to investigate and teach a variety of
    scientifically legitimate theories on Origins, it sets boundaries on the doctrine of the special
    creation of Adam by God, which should b
    e advocated as the official, meritorious, and
    theologically responsible position of the College, without disparagement.
    1.
    The Missionary Church’s Position Paper on Educational Philosophy upholds that the
    Bible (Special Revelation) reveals truth about God, h
    umanity, and the universe which
    cannot be discovered from any other source, and that General Revelation about humanity
    and the universe comes from observation. By observing, categorizing and experimenting
    with the created order, knowledge is gathered abou
    t God, others and the world.
    Therefore, the study of every facet of the universe (including humanity as related to it and
    responsible as stewards of it), is not
    only a permissible pursuit, but strongly encouraged
    by the Bible itself (Proverbs 25:2; Exodus
    31:1

    5; Psalm 19:1

    6), affirmed by the
    Missionary Church, and necessary for skilled Christian discipleship.
    Therefore, Bethel faculty are affirmed to investigate everything appropriate to a Christian
    liberal arts college as a function of Christian discip
    leship (Mark 12:30; Colossians 1:16

    18; II Corinthians 10:5).
    Further, Bethel College faculty are affirmed to teach any and all matters relevant to
    developing wisdom and Christian maturity in students, including viewpoints which the
    college may not hold b
    ut which students may face in the future.
    2.
    The Article of Faith on Creation states, “We believe that the first man, Adam, was
    created by an immediate act of God and not by a process of evolution.” While faculty are
    supported to investigate
    and teach all v
    iewpoints on Origins, this doctrine is a corporate
    commitment on Adam and all humanity. This affirmation is essential to distinguish
    humanity from animals, as made in God’s image (Gen. 1:27; 2:7) to account for the work
    of Christ to atone for the represen
    tative sin of humanity through Adam (I Cor. 15:45),
    respect the genealogy of Luke
    3
    , account for New Testament reference
    s
    to Adam by Paul
    (Rom. 5:12

    17), and others. Macro

    evolution among animals is not addressed here.

    3.
    Bethel College faculty members aff
    irm through contracts each year that they believe:
    ?
    God is the Creator and Sustainer of all things, and the Author of Salvation.
    ?
    The Bible is the divinely inspired, only infallible, authoritative Word of God, and the
    unchanging rule of faith and practice.
    ?
    Humanity’s relationship to God, which was lost through sin, is restored through faith
    in the redeeming work of Christ, God’s divine Son.
    ?
    The Church comprises people who are born of the Spirit and empowered by him to
    live a holy life devoted to the fulfill
    ment of the Church’s Great Commission.
    ?
    The personal return of Christ will bring about the end of the present age, the judgment
    and the beginning of the glorious age to come.
    In summary,
    Bethel College faculty will respectfully teach its denominational doc
    trine on the
    distinctive creation of humanity, while answering that denomination’s call to investigate
    everything appropriate to a Christian liberal arts college. This
    Statement
    does not
    intend to
    suppress faculty opinions about Origins, but prevent publi
    c contradiction or disparagement of
    this corporate commitment.
    This permits faculty to participate in academic communities which
    might be at variance with the Position Statement in order to learn from that community, but
    faculty are not to advocate for, n
    or hold leadership positions for, nor sustain a contractual
    relationship with an academic community which may be at variance with the Statement.>>

    I would suggest this is a faith community working through a cluster of challenging issues and seeking a fair and faithful position.

    In particular there is utterly no suppression of the teaching of macroevolutionary theory, though in a faith community that for cause rejects evolutionary materialism [which is self refuting and self falsifying, utterly unable to account for the responsible, morally accountable rational freedom we experience], there is a statement to the effect that

    The comparison made by Seversky to Nazism is outrageous, without good grounds, slanderous, and should be apologised for.

    KF

  20. 20
    Silver Asiatic says:

    seversky

    but they forfeit any respect for their scholarship in science if what is good is decided by the clerical rather than the scientific community.

    Normally, that would seem to be a reasonable idea, however one of the interesting things about science is that anyone who is a member of the “scientific community” is so by self-designation. No one can be expelled from the scientific community as such and no one has the authority to speak for it.

    No one even owns the definition of what is termed ‘science’.

    Certainly, the clerical community can be part of anything considered “the science community” and have has much right to declare that evolution “is not science” as others have the right to claim that it is.

    This is all just a lot of circular debates – unresolvable. “The multiverse speculation is not science and anyone who defends it is not a scientist”. What universally recognized authority figure is going to proclaim that to be right or wrong?

    As for gaining respect for scholarship in science, that also should be irrelevant. If a phenomenon has been observed and explained, then that doesn’t need to be ‘respected’ by anyone.

    college such as Bethel suppressing discussion of the theory of evolution and political regimes such as the communists who suppressed any views they held to be not consonant with their ideology

    All colleges suppress ideas that are not consonant with their ideology.

  21. 21
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Mapou

    What bothers me about YECs is how selective they are in their literal interpretations.

    It’s good to be aware of your own assumptions, since you are selective in your literal interpretations.

  22. 22
    Virgil Cain says:

    DebianFanatic:

    Yet the text repeatedly says that each day consisted of an evening and a morning.

    There wasn’t a Sun so how could there be an evening and a morning? It is evident that there was a a time order before this- the one we live in.

  23. 23
    reverendspy says:

    Anthropic 16> Chapter and verse:

    Psalm 104:5 “Who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever.”

    Now you have a choice, Debian. You can say that these scriptures have changed in the last few centuries — except they haven’t — or you can say that science has shown that the old interpretation was incorrect — or you can claim that despite all the evidence, the Earth does not move. Or, finally, you can say those scriptures were interpreted correctly but were erroneous.

    Unfortunately the examples and verses given are poor ones for what your trying to prove.
    we used to sing a chorus called I shall not be moved
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kujL_wV2c8
    does that mean we never move? or does a tree planted by the water never blow in the wind or get uprooted?
    figures of speech are used throughout the good book..
    As a matter of fact you could take the very same verses to mean, who placed the world in motion and ordit and keeps it from moving off course.

  24. 24
    reverendspy says:

    VC@22 There wasn’t a Sun so how could there be an evening and a morning? It is evident that there was a a time order before this- the one we live in.
    This is interesting. Are you referring to evening and morning as ages of creation? Morning= the begining of a new creative act and evening the end?
    And although the sun was created later that should not negate evening and morning, Light was the first creative act and God himself is light.
    1 John 1:5>This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all.
    Revelation 21:23 ?And the city has no need of sun or moon, for the glory of God illuminates the city, and the Lamb is its light.
    Figures of speech? Maybe

  25. 25
    anthropic says:

    rev 23

    “Unfortunately the examples and verses given are poor ones for what your trying to prove.
    we used to sing a chorus called I shall not be moved
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5kujL_wV2c8
    does that mean we never move? or does a tree planted by the water never blow in the wind or get uprooted?
    figures of speech are used throughout the good book..
    As a matter of fact you could take the very same verses to mean, who placed the world in motion and ordit and keeps it from moving off course.”
    ——————————————————

    Hey, rev.

    Recall that I was NOT trying to prove that the Bible teaches the Earth does not move physically. What I was illustrating were the verses that were INTERPRETED to mean exactly that for many centuries.

    I agree that they are a figure of speech, like trees clapping their hands and rocks shouting. But that does not change the fact that the old erroneous interpretation was corrected by scientific advances, a process Debian seems to deny is valid.

  26. 26
    reverendspy says:

    Ok sorry.. I misinterpreted what your were actually trying to say. But I guess thats the whole point.

  27. 27
    anthropic says:

    Not to worry, rev. I misinterpret stuff all the time!

    But, as you say, that’s the point. Here we are writing back and forth almost instantly, sharing a common language and probably a common culture, and yet we STILL manage to misinterpret each other!

    How much harder it is to look at stuff written by different authors in different, ancient languages at various times thousands of years ago and figure out what is going on…

  28. 28
    DonaldM says:

    As it happens, I am quite close to the situation involving Dr. Stump and Bethel College, as my wife is on faculty there, both my daughters graduated from there, and I am friends with Jim Stump, among other faculty there. With that said, I want to comment on and clarify a point raised in the op:

    First, didn’t the guy notice after all these years how his denomination felt about these matters? Stump should be free to follow whatever scholarship he feels called to. But it doesn’t follow he can teach at an institution explicitly committed to a different vision.

    When Jim Stump was offered the opportunity to be a fellow with BioLogos, he accepted with the full blessing of Bethel College. He was half time with each organization, Biologos having essentially bought out 1/2 of his BC contract, which is often how these Fellow things work. What actually happened was that a couple of BC Board of Trustee members began having concerns about the question of origins, the special creation of an actual Adam and Eve, and all that. All of this arose AFTER Jim had received approval from the BC administration to accept the Fellow position with BioLogos. As BC President Greg Chenoweth’s letter indicates, there was indeed much discussion and debate within the faculty regarding all these matters. So, contrary to what it says in the OP, Jim was not in violation of any policies at BC; in fact, he had their approval to accept the Fellow position at BioLogos. Academically, BC has always given their faculty a lot academic freedom, while affirming orthodox Christian faith and teaching. Even the newly adopted statement makes quite clear that a wide range of views can still be taught and discussed in classes at BC. What the new policy does do, however, is ask that no faculty participate in an organization in a way that requires them to advocate for a position on origins that is at variance with the official Missionary Church position. Unfortunately, that policy put Jim Stump in the position of having to make a choice, as BioLogos quite clearly does advocate for a position at odds with the MC one. Stump decided to opt for BioLogos over BC. That was entirely HIS choice. Had he opted to remain at BC, that would have been fine, too.

    Given all that has happened here, I felt it necessary to clarify that Jim was not in any way in violation of any BC policies or doctrinal teaching.

    And, in the interests of full disclosure, I will add that, while I personally do NOT advocate for the BioLogos position…indeed, I am quite critical of it, and I fully subscribe to ID as the best alternative to Darwinian evolution, as anyone who has read my posts here can attest…I did want to make sure the facts were presented fairly and accurately regarding my friend, Jim Stump.

  29. 29
    Mapou says:

    Silver Asiatic:

    Mapou

    What bothers me about YECs is how selective they are in their literal interpretations.

    It’s good to be aware of your own assumptions, since you are selective in your literal interpretations.

    Of course, I’m selective. I’m not the one who claims that Genesis is 100% historical and must be interpreted literally. I am not the one who claims that the entire Bible is the inerrant word of God. I worship God, not the Bible. The Bible is a great book for research but it is certainly not infallible. Anybody who claims that the Bible is flawless is an idolater, IMO. He or she is worshipping a book and makes a mockery of Yahweh Elohim. That’s my opinion. Take it or leave it. But also “search and you shall find”.

  30. 30
    Virgil Cain says:

    When it comes to the old testament, Hebrew Bible scholars are worth listening to. In”the Evolution Revolution”, Dr Lee Spetner (who posts here sometimes) goes over this very topic. From the Talmud and ancient Kabbalistic texts we get the part about no Sun. The Kabbalists wrote that the earth has been repeatedly destroyed and restored- 4 times, this being the fourth epoch (pages 100-101 “the Evolution Revolution”)- reference to a Rabbi Lifshitz discourse of 1842.

  31. 31
    Virgil Cain says:

    What is a “literal interpretation”? It seems that either something is literal or it is interpreted.

  32. 32
    reverendspy says:

    I have been following the debates on this site for quite awhile; I figure this would be a great place for someone who actually has some proof of macroevolution to make their views know. But I haven’t seen anyone do that yet: And yet people continue to believe Darwin with great faith just like a religion. And yet others who choose to believe that God created the world in six 24 hour days are mocked. Are not both views based on belief?

  33. 33
    Mapou says:

    Virgil @31,

    You may have a point. But I tend think that everything is interpreted even if it’s assumed to be literal. There is always an assumption.

  34. 34
    rhampton7 says:

    DonaldM,
    Thank you for providing the additional details.

  35. 35
    Mapou says:

    Virgil:

    The Kabbalists wrote that the earth has been repeatedly destroyed and restored- 4 times, this being the fourth epoch (pages 100-101 “the Evolution Revolution”)- reference to a Rabbi Lifshitz discourse of 1842.

    This seems to agree with the mass extinctions seen in the fossil and geological records. My hypothesis is that the designers went through successive waves of terraforming. It’s also possible that they were experimenting (i.e., collecting scientific data) with different lifeforms/ecosystems and finally settled on this one. Who knows? They may destroy this one too in the far distant future. Passing time is probably not a big concern if you have nothing but time on your hands.

  36. 36
    reverendspy says:

    Mapou:
    The Kabbalists wrote that the earth has been repeatedly destroyed and restored- 4 times, this being the fourth epoch (pages 100-101 “the Evolution Revolution”)- reference to a Rabbi Lifshitz discourse of 1842.

    I have believed a form of this for years. The much maligned and ridiculed gap or ruin restoration theory. I believe it answers far more questions than it creates.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gap_creationism

    Many prominent theologians held this belief
    ” Lewis Sperry Chafer, Dallas Theological Seminary, William Culbertson, past president of Moody Bible Institute, Frank F. Gaebelien, Harry A. Ironside, Herbert Lockyer, Clarence E. Mason, Jr., Lehman Strauss, Donald Gray Barnhouse, Martin Anstey, Alfred Edersheim, H. Browne, G. V. Garland, N. Snaith, T. Jollie Smith, A. I. McCaul, and R. Jameison John Phillips, Jeff Adams, and Dr. Alan Ross

  37. 37
    Dr JDD says:

    Let us be clear about some things.

    1) To claim to be “Christian” you must have some authority for your knowledge and beliefs or it is just whimsical making up as you go along and what benefit is that to anyone?

    2) To claim to worship the God of the Bible (Elohim) must constrain yourself to that God – who states that we must worship in Spirit and in TRUTH. Where is truth from? Thy Word is TRUTH.

    3) The Bible claims to be the Words of God. All Scripture is God-breathed. The very word “Scriptures” is used by the New Testament writers as being the Word from and of God and absolute truth. Now we do not have original manuscripts but we have such a vast array of ancient texts that we can be confident we have a very very close version of the original in our hands today. So to reject what Scripture claims about itself pulls away the foundations of all the Christian faith is built upon. Where we disagree is due to interpretation. If we cannot agree the Bible is the Word of God we have little common ground or basis for discussion of the Christian faith.

    4) The real heart of the matter will always be who Jesus was and what He did and said. The Jews believe the Torah is Scripture revealed from God. Many believe(d) that the world was created in a literal 6-day creation period. Does that save them? No. The demons have a better theology and understanding of things divine including creation than any human alive but it helps them not one iota.

    However Jesus claimed to be God. Before Abraham was, I AM: this was His claim of many times. He backed this up with miraculous CREATIVE works. He said, even if you do not believe Him and who He claims to be, at least believe the works that He did and know who sent HIm. No wonder the Pharisee Nicademous said to Him that they know He was from God for noone can do the things He did if not from God.

    So then ask yourself the question – what was Jesus’ view of the Old Testament? If He really was who He claimed to be, what did He believe? He believe in a flood that only saved 8 people, He believed in a literal Adam, He believed that from the beginning there were male and female He believed the Law and the Prophets were God’s Word and He was to fufil it all, to every single “jot and tittle”. Moreover, He even believed that the very tense of a verb mattered when it came to the Scriptures and used this to disprove the Saducees false belief system in no resurrection (as they only accepted the 5 books of the Torah and claimed there was nothing in those books about the resurrection).

    5) Genesis 1 demonstrates a truth seen in Jesus Himself, in fact not many Gods but One God existing in a Trinity that surpasses human understanding. That is why it says “Let us create….” Look at Jesus’ prayer!? He claimed to be God yet prayed to the Father and asked for the Holy Spirit to be sent. The 3 persons of the Trinity. Yet as Israel was commanded to bind to their foreheads, write it on their hearts, the Shema – Hear oh Israel the Lord your God, the Lord is ONE. You will never ever get your human mind around the Trinity concept but it is a Biblical reality. If we could understand every doctrine fully we would be as God Himself. By the way, the Bible teaches even in glorification and in eternity it seems there will still be things hidden from us and what we will not know.

    Finally, 6) and most pertinent here: this must be clear, the doctrine of a literal interpretation of a day being a 24-hour solar day does not come solely from Genesis but also the idea that it is NOT a literal day most definitely does not come from Genesis either. Proper hermeneutics requires the simple explanation and the plain reading of Scripture. The day is defined for us as a literal 24-hour day. Now people cannot get their heads around this but again, to have evening and morning all you need is light and a rotating earth. We see that Earth was there in a form before the first Creation day and then the very first thing that was created was light. It just was not yet attached to a solar body yet. Now all we know of light is attachment to solar bodies but that does not mean it could not have been created to exist apart from – and that is what is claimed here. Light was the very first thing in the order of creation and evening and morning was a Jewish expression and order for defining a day. There is no subtlties here.

    Let us further be clear – the idea to make this into a long age only comes from a desire to “align” with current scientific consensus theories or man’s consensus thoughts on the age of the earth. there is nothing in Scripture to imply that (even though a day can refer to an age in Hebrew however never when used in the definitive context of how it is used in Genesis 1). So again, this is an attempt to align with science so the Bible account does not look so whacky.

    Yet the point of Creation is it was one massive miracle. Again, I ask you, what do you say of Jesus who claimed to be God? He came down, it is written that He:
    – Healed people blind from birth – gave them complete sight
    – Healed people deaf from birth
    – Made lame walk
    – Destroyed illness
    – Raised people from the dead – one such resurrection He performed was after a man had been dead in a tomb for 4 days and stank of decomposition.
    – Performed other ex nihlo creative miracles such as turning water to wine, taking 5 loaves and 2 fishes and feeding 20,000+ people with just those with suprlus left over.

    Now all of those things are instantaneous creative miracles. How can you give someone a new pair of eyes who has never seen? How can you make bread and fish out of nothing? What is the scientific explanation for it? WHat if you took some of that bread and analysed it? You would probably find all of the components of bread, nothing different, nothing to lead you to the conclusion it came from a creative miracle. The same if you analysed Lazarus after he was raised from the dead. So are all of those things not real? Are they allegory? If Jesus limited to a man could speak and instantaneously some creative miracle occurs, why is it that He could not also do that in an instant? For indeed, In the begginning was the WORD and the WORD was with God and the WORD WAS GOD. All things were made by Him and through Him and for Him.

    But further, let us again be very clear, Genesis is not the only reason to believe a literal 6-day creation period. Fine, I’ll accept that is non-literal. But you still have to accept a literal Adam, a literal flood, and most importantly – that death came into this world as a result of the Fall, man’s sin. ONE man sinned and so all are in Adam. The analogy of what Christ is to Adam falls over if you take the theistic evolution route. Death is a pre-requisite for evolution. No, this and many many other Scriptures require that we take a literal approach to Genesis if we say that we hold to the Bible as from God and His Word. If you don’t fine – then I have no debate with you. But if you claim to be a Christian, and accept the Bible but start to reject the bits you do not like which have clear teaching behind them, you are into a bit of trouble.

    Finally, the reference to the Earth not being “moved” is a complete misunderstanding of “literal” intepretation and is a poor attempt quite frankly to illustrate a point. The point is a literal reading is the plain reading that the context, type and style of writing and language demands. For one, in my Bible it poses the alternative translation to “moved” as also “shaken”. Secondly, this is always in poetic Psalms where it is obvious that things are being portrayed in imagery and the text is clearly not claiming to be a historical narrative. Thirdly, have you not read Psalm 21:7? “For the king trusts in the LORD, and through the mercy of the Most High he shall not be moved.” Does a king who trusts in God not ever move?

    Of course not. The point is the Psalmist is using poetic language to convey that the Earth is in the hands of God, in His control and will not go off of its course or be “shaken” (as another translation of that word) from what God has set it in. It most definitely does not refer to a literal “the earth does not move at all”. That is not even in the same league as the context of Genesis 1 and any good student of hermeneutics can see that.

    Back to Job 38-40.

    Behold, I am vile; what shall I answer You? I lay my hand over my mouth.

  38. 38
    anthropic says:

    Dr JDD 37

    The only reason why Christians abandoned the idea of an unmoving Earth was new data from science. We say it was a bad, erroneous interpretation, and I agree, BUT … the fact remains that factual information from the book of nature was needed to correct our understanding of the book of scripture.

    The Hebrew word for day used in Genesis 1, bara, can mean period of sunlight, 24 hours, or possibly a long but undetermined time. Just like the English word day, such as the “day of the dinosaurs.”

    There’s a big difference between a literal interpretation, meaning one that takes into account the context, style, purpose, audience, etc, and a literalistic interpretation, which does not. While I totally agree with you that Christians should consider the scriptures canonical, that is different than saying one particular interpretation has that status when there are other plausible meanings.

    I’m done on the subject… 🙂

  39. 39
    Virgil Cain says:

    Dr JDD:

    Let us further be clear – the idea to make this into a long age only comes from a desire to “align” with current scientific consensus theories or man’s consensus thoughts on the age of the earth. there is nothing in Scripture to imply that (even though a day can refer to an age in Hebrew however never when used in the definitive context of how it is used in Genesis 1). So again, this is an attempt to align with science so the Bible account does not look so whacky.

    So the Talmud and ancient Kabbalistic texts are actually modern renderings? Is tat your argument? The Rabbi’s 1842 discourse wasn’t really from 1842?

    What about Peter saying a day is like a thousand years? Was that a recent change to conform with something?

  40. 40
    Mapou says:

    Sometimes I suspect that the so-called YEC Christians who post here on UD are faking it, either for personal gain (they are some church pastor or other) or as atheist sock puppets. You people are too weird and brain-dead to be taken seriously.

  41. 41
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Dr JDD

    That was a good explanation, but as I suggested to Mapou, it’s also good to question your assumptions.

    1) To claim to be “Christian” you must have some authority for your knowledge and beliefs or it is just whimsical making up as you go along and what benefit is that to anyone?

    When the general rule is that each person interprets for himself, then the final authority is with the individual. I guess they would say that the benefit of that is for the individual alone, and for anybody else who agrees with them. Because aside from that, there is no other authority (in that view of it).

    YECs say one thing. Mapou says something radically different. And you could say something different also. All claim to be Christian. None has authority over the other.

    To claim to worship the God of the Bible (Elohim) must constrain yourself to that God – who states that we must worship in Spirit and in TRUTH. Where is truth from? Thy Word is TRUTH.

    Without wanting to sound irreverent, even though what you say seems to make sense, it’s really just your interpretation. Perhaps Mapou would say that he doesn’t want to take any of that literally. Just insisting that we have to won’t work in this case.

    The very word “Scriptures” is used by the New Testament writers as being the Word from and of God and absolute truth.

    As above, that’s your interpretation of the text and many Bible readers would disagree.

    If we cannot agree the Bible is the Word of God we have little common ground or basis for discussion of the Christian faith.

    As I said elsewhere to KairosFocus on another thread, the common ground will will have is that God exists. So, Christianity becomes like a generic theism, with a personal God who may or may not have said and done things we find in the Bible. But God exists and that much is held in common.

    That’s why I think ecumenism, or understanding better the various Christian beliefs and trying to sort them out, is a very important task for all believers.

  42. 42
    reverendspy says:

    Mapou>Sometimes I suspect that the so-called YEC Christians who post here on UD are faking it, either for personal gain (they are some church pastor or other) or as atheist sock puppets. You people are too weird and brain-dead to be taken seriously.
    Personal gain? LOL you obviously have no idea what most church pastors get paid.
    And after reading some of your posts concerning your personal beliefs. Well: your pretty way out there as well buddy..you seem to have mormonism scientology and christianity all wrapped into one…
    But live and let live..

  43. 43
    Querius says:

    Hmmm. I wonder when modern scientists and the rest of our culture will abandon the completely disproved, ridiculous notions of “sunrise” and “sunset.”

    And I wonder when cosmologists will abandon the obviously false idea in Genesis that light could be present before the sun, moon, and stars.

    The Bible is not intended to be a scientific text—it’s poetic in some places, historical in others, and instructive in yet others. Any cosmological references references are definitely experiential, thus geocentric.

    If you assume that God does not exist, the Bible can easily be rationalized; if you assume that God does exist, likewise one can see how God communicates with ordinary people, not burdening them with the often-overlooked fact that the sun doesn’t actually orbit the earth but rather orbits their common center of mass. 😮

    -Q

  44. 44
    Mapou says:

    reverendpsy:

    Personal gain? LOL you obviously have no idea what most church pastors get paid.

    All the more reason to want a bigger flock or, at least, keep the one you have from dwindling?

    And after reading some of your posts concerning your personal beliefs. Well: your pretty way out there as well buddy..you seem to have mormonism scientology and christianity all wrapped into one…

    You have no idea how far out. I prefer the path less traveled. But that’s just me.

    But live and let live..

    Absolutely.

  45. 45
    Mapou says:

    Silver Asiatic @41,

    Everybody must work out their own salvation, IMO. You can’t make it into the kingdom unless Yahweh calls you. And if he does call you, you will be given what you need and your faith will be tested accordingly. That is all.

    The most infuriating thing I see with organized Christian religions is that they see themselves as essential cogs in the mechanism of salvation. This is so presumptuous and evil, I want to puke when I think about it. I refuse to allow anybody to preach to me or to interpret anything for me. I’ll take my chances with my own interpretation, thank you.

  46. 46
    Mapou says:

    Querius:

    The Bible is not intended to be a scientific text

    I strongly disagree with this often repeated belief. First, the Bible is many books in one. Some of the individual books in the Bible are also compilations of even smaller books. Each were written for different purposes by different authors.

    Second, I have a hypothesis (which will soon be put to the test) that some of the purely metaphorical books in the Bible are strictly scientific in nature. When properly decoded, they will reveal revolutionary scientific knowledge that will radically transform the world in ways that are hard to predict.

  47. 47
    Querius says:

    Mapou,

    Good news for you! Salvation is initiated by whether you’re *willing* to allow the Holy Spirit into your life. And that’s not half as weird as quantum mechanics!

    – If you are willing, God will meet you more than half way.

    – If you aren’t willing, God will allow you to freely choose otherwise.

    As a Christian, I sometimes have the honor of introducing someone to what God has provided for us all, but I’m not at all necessary or worthy (I’m a sinner just like you). Many people, especially those in countries hostile to Christianity meet Jesus in a dream or vision. I know this through the reports of people who I know personally and trust implicitly!

    But once again, you’re free to scoff or rationalize if you will, or to believe if you will. Remember that even electrons sometimes take a quantum leap! 😉

    -Q

  48. 48
    DillyGill says:

    I remember the boast of evolutionists ‘fearlessly following the evidence where ever it leads’ Well that turned out to be wrong and the ID movement exposed how unwilling they are to concede the most reasonable of points.

    So given that the best evidence (the fossils themselves) say the fossil record is younger than we have been told should we not move from gradualism to catastrophism?

    Personally I do not believe a single word NASA has to say about anything, they are a discredited source who has been proven to lie. In a court of law that would make all their testimony worthless. Lets throw the whole lot out and start again.

    Does anyone actually believe the footage of Saturn is anything other than a computer generated image?

  49. 49
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Mapou @ 45

    The most infuriating thing I see with organized Christian religions is that they see themselves as essential cogs in the mechanism of salvation. This is so presumptuous and evil, I want to puke when I think about it.

    This doesn’t follow. They’re merely interpreting things differently than you do and given the idea that anybody can interpret the Bible any way they want, there’s nothing to puke about. If you could show, somehow, that your interpretation is correct, that would be different. But as it stands, you have your own opinion and they have theirs. The only way to know if they’re wrong is to have the authority, from God, to know and teach the correct interpretation.

    I refuse to allow anybody to preach to me or to interpret anything for me. I’ll take my chances with my own interpretation, thank you.

    This would tell me that you believe yourself to be the highest possible authority in determining what is correct in the Bible. Right?

  50. 50
    mike1962 says:

    Silver Asiatic to Mapou: This would tell me that you believe yourself to be the highest possible authority in determining what is correct in the Bible. Right?

    He is for himself. As you are for yourself. If you have a choice, there can be no other way.

    Even if you decide to generally trust some organization to do the interpreting for you, you still have made a decision for yourself where to lay your trust based on some criteria that you yourself have assessed and decided upon, thus demonstrating that you are the ultimate authority for yourself… Unless, perhaps, you are a little child who is coerced by his parents, or a robot with no free will in the matter.

  51. 51
    Silver Asiatic says:

    mike1962

    Even if you decide to generally trust some organization to do the interpreting for you, you still have made a decision for yourself where to lay your trust based on some criteria that you yourself have assessed and decided upon, thus demonstrating that you are the ultimate authority for yourself…

    When it comes to where to place trust, yes, we decide.
    But that’s a lot different than deciding that I, myself, am the highest possible authority in arriving at the correct interpretation. The reason I would place my trust in myself for interpretation would be because I believe myself to be the highest possible authority in interpreting the Bible.

    It’s like a disciple of Jesus saying that the disciple has the greatest possible authority in interpreting the Bible because the disciple freely decided to follow Jesus.

    But that’s not how it worked. The disciples were taught by Jesus because they believed him to have the authority to teach the correct interpretations. They didn’t follow their own interpretations. Very often, Jesus taught them things they didn’t want to hear – if they used their own interpretation they would have been wrong.

    The fact that the disciple decided to follow Jesus doesn’t say anything about the authority of the individual to interpret the Bible correctly.

  52. 52
    mike1962 says:

    SA: The disciples were taught by Jesus because they believed him to have the authority to teach the correct interpretations. They didn’t follow their own interpretations.

    Something he said or did comported with a pre-existing set of “facts” they had in their minds. From that they judged and chose to follow him, and so are ultimately responsible for what follows from placing their trust into someone else’s hands. Some stopped following him when he starting teaching about “eating my body and my blood.”

    If the Roman Catholic Magisterium came out that all Catholics must sacrifice their firstborns, you would probably balk and withdraw your support. This probably won’t happen, but do you or do you not reserve the right to judge their pronouncements as valid or not? I would find it very bizarre indeed if you personally answer anything other than “yes” to that question. You are still the final authority for yourself. No way around it, unless your reason and will are gone.

  53. 53
    Mapou says:

    Silver Asiatic @49,

    I think you are putting words in my mouth. I consider myself to have no authority whatsoever. This is why I search always. You don’t know how many times I have changed my mind about doctrine. After all, the man said “search and you shall find”. And believe it or not, I have found some very interesting things. For example, my current understanding of the functioning of the brain and intelligence comes almost entirely from a couple of Biblical books. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg of scientific knowledge that is in the Bible.

    My current interpretation of the mechanism of salvation is this. The most important thing one can have is faith. Nobody makes it into the kingdom of Yahweh without faith. Either you have it or you don’t. Our righteousness is worthless because we don’t have any. But nobody gets in without righteousness either. If Yahweh did not pay that debt for us, we would all be doomed.

    This being said, I don’t mind seeing anybody else, including the Churches, interpreting the Bible. But they should at least admit to their congregations that this is what they are doing and they should encourage them to come up with their own interpretation and provide them with the tools they need to do so. Imposing dogma on the flock is evil, IMO. The Churches have no authority whatsoever in matters regarding salvation or interpretation of scripture.

  54. 54
    Silver Asiatic says:

    mike1962

    From that they judged and chose to follow him, and so are ultimately responsible for what follows from placing their trust into someone else’s hands.

    We’re talking about two different things.
    In one case, you’re talking about the choice to accept and follow an authoritative guide or not. In the other case, we’re talking about a claim that one’s own personal judgements are equivalent to that of an authoritative guide.

    So, these are different points. The difference is, when interpreting the Bible, am I the ultimate authority for what it means or is there a greater authority?

    By merely choosing a greater authority than myself is not equivalent to claiming my interpretations of the Bible are the correct ones. It’s the difference between submission or obedience to a higher authority versus subjectively following my own ideas as authoritative.

    When reading Shakespeare, is the individual reader the ultimate authority for what the author intended, or does the author himself have a greater authority about what the text was intended to mean? If I accepted Shakespeare’s interpretations (if I was alive with him) would that mean “I already knew what his plays meant and he just validated it”? I don’t think so. Even if I didn’t understand, or disagreed with him, I would accept that he was the ultimate authority and therefore, he had the correct interpretation.

    You are still the final authority for yourself.

    Well, if that were the case, then I wouldn’t need a guide to religion, like the Bible, at all. I would possess all the authority of right judgement in myself. This seems similar to Mapou’s point of view – he rejects religion and will not be preached to and interprets the Bible in his own unique way.

    A religious authority directs us truths we couldn’t know by our self. There’s a very big difference between being taught something by an acknowledged authority and deciding that you already know what is right by yourself.

    When a person chooses to follow and obey an authoritative teacher, it doesn’t mean the person is judging for himself what is right.

    When learning how to fly an airplane, I trust the flight instructor and obey the directions given. I cannot claim to be the ultimate authority on how to fly a plane merely because I trusted a flight instructor to teach me.

    In the Bible there are many examples of how God expected the people to follow commands of the authoritative teachers. This is quite a lot different than the people asserting that they, themselves, are the highest authority.

    This argument is very similar to the discussions we have about subjective morality. In those cases, the person asserts that the individual is the highest authority in judging what is morally good or not.

  55. 55
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Mapou,

    What I mean by the authority to interpret the bible is that when you decide what something means, you follow your own opinion. By this, your own opinion of what the bible means has the highest authority level.

    As I explained elsewhere – it’s like if you wanted to know what the lyrics to a song meant and you interpreted it for yourself and refused to listen to what the songwriter actually intended the lyrics to mean. That’s saying that you are the ultimate authority — your own opinion has the highest value in what you will believe.

    But nobody gets in without righteousness either. If Yahweh did not pay that debt for us, we would all be doomed.

    Ok, but that’s merely your opinion and as you said, it could change. As such, nobody would have any reason or need to follow it. There’s actually no reason even to discuss it. If I merely said my opinion disagrees with yours, that would be the end of the conversation. My opinion is just as right or wrong as yours since nobody could really know what the Bible means anyway. It’s all just changeable opinions.

  56. 56
    Mapou says:

    Silver Asiatic:

    Ok, but that’s merely your opinion and as you said, it could change. As such, nobody would have any reason or need to follow it. There’s actually no reason even to discuss it. If I merely said my opinion disagrees with yours, that would be the end of the conversation. My opinion is just as right or wrong as yours since nobody could really know what the Bible means anyway. It’s all just changeable opinions.

    No. My (or anyone else’s) opinion or interpretation is neither right nor wrong. All I’m saying is keep searching always. And there is nothing wrong with comparing notes with others. I often take a look at the opinion of others, even the preachers. Just don’t preach. Nobody has that authority unless he or she can walk on water, predict the future or do something that knocks everyone’s socks off. Wearing a collar, a crucifix or a robe does not cut it.

  57. 57
    mike1962 says:

    SA: When learning how to fly an airplane, I trust the flight instructor and obey the directions given. I cannot claim to be the ultimate authority on how to fly a plane merely because I trusted a flight instructor to teach me.

    Now, if after having hired what you decided to accept was a qualified flight instructor, you discover he has a drinking problem and is impaired as you are about to get into the plane with him for a session, you might change your mind about him being the right instructor for you, and find a new instructor. I would. Or perhaps you began to study all the relevant flight instruction manuals and discuss with other instructors some discrepancies between your chosen instructor and the training manuals. You might change your mind about your original choice of instructor. I would. Why? Because I don’t give up my faculty of assessment just because I decide to acknowledge an authority. Do you? I hope not. It’s dangerous.

    Are you telling me that when you decide to allow someone else to be an authority for you, you turn your brain off and stop critically analyzing the authority’s output? I sure hope not. Because you may discovery you were wrong in the first place to put your trust in your chosen authority, removing the legitimacy of your first decision. Or are you saying you can infallibly determine who the proper authority is?

    To not question and critically assess your chosen authority’s output is dangerous. Even Yahweh in the Old Testament told his people to test the prophets’ and put them under a pile of stones if the the prophets strayed from the Torah or made false predictions. How could the people do that if they “parked their brains at the door of the synagog”, so to speak?

    Bottom line is, unless you have somehow shut off your critical rational capacity with regards to your chosen authority, you are still judging and assessing your chosen authority, and may come to change your mind about his/her/their legitimacy, making you the ultimate arbiter for yourself.

  58. 58
    mike1962 says:

    SA to Mapou: As I explained elsewhere – it’s like if you wanted to know what the lyrics to a song meant and you interpreted it for yourself and refused to listen to what the songwriter actually intended the lyrics to mean. That’s saying that you are the ultimate authority — your own opinion has the highest value in what you will believe.

    Unfortunately, the “songwriters” of the ancient texts are not around for a personal interview, so we have to do the best we can when assessing the text. I, for one, do not live in a bubble and I study lots of relevant scholars in an attempt to glean the meaning of any particular text, biblical or otherwise. In the end, I have to come to a conclusion. And sometimes the conclusions change over time.

    But let’s cut to the chase here, Silver, you think the Roman Catholic Magisterium is the only God-sanctioned interpreter of the Bible, right? (I don’t.) Are you saying you uncritically accept everything they pronounce as true doctrine? If so, we’ve come to the end, because somehow you dispensed with your ability to critically analyze them. (I would find that difficult to believe, but I will admit the possibility.) If not, what is the limit of what you would tolerate before deciding they are not what you currently think they are?

  59. 59
    Silver Asiatic says:

    mike1962

    I don’t give up my faculty of assessment just because I decide to acknowledge an authority,

    Assessing and choosing a different instructor does not automatically make you the ultimate teacher and authority for flying airplanes.

    To not question and critically assess your chosen authority’s output is dangerous.

    That’s a different issue. You’ve gotten on to this notion of following blindly. As above, a person recognizes and chooses an authority greater than himself, that means he is not the highest authority.

    Even Yahweh in the Old Testament told his people to test the prophets’ …

    True. But the people didn’t decide for themselves whatever they wanted. They were required to follow and obey the teaching of the Prophets.

    As Jesus said — “So practice and obey whatever they tell you, but don’t follow their example. For they don’t practice what they teach.” Matthew 23:3

    The people submitted to and obeyed the authoritative teachers. They didn’t make up their own interpretations and just follow that.

    In any case, it seems we’re misunderstanding each other or something like that, so feel free to have the last word. I can’t really say much more on this. Thanks.

  60. 60
    Silver Asiatic says:

    mike1962

    Silver, you think the Roman Catholic Magisterium is the only God-sanctioned interpreter of the Bible, right?

    When it comes to the teachings that are required for Christians to follow – yes. That’s part of the religious belief I adhere to. I have tested that authority and found it trustworthy, so I surrender my personal opinion to an authority that I accept as greater than myself. I am not the ultimate authority on the interpretation of Scripture, but the Church is, through what has been handed down from Christ to the Apostles and their successors.

    So, while we can’t talk with the original ‘songwriter’ directly, we have an authoritative linkage to the ‘songwriter’ through the succession of teachers who were promised to never fail in providing the true teaching of Christ.

    So, I accept Christ on evidence I see about his life, and then accept the Church he established as having authority to speak in the name of Christ.

    If the question is with regards to various concepts and ideas in the Bible that I could apply to my own life, I’m free to, and am encouraged to, interpret them for myself. But I’m not the ultimate authority on the true interpretation and if my opinion conflicted with official church teaching, I would give up my opinion and accept the church (if required, which would only be on necessary doctrines – the resurrection, the Trinity, etc).

    I arrived at the choice to obey the Church of Christ, not because I am the ultimate authority in interpreting the Bible, but because the evidence showed the church to be a higher authority than I am (and worthy of trust).

    If the Catholic Church could be shown to be wrong about this authority, then Christianity would be a jumble of contradictory, subjective opinions (as I’ve suggested) which would ultimately be meaningless and therefore a false religion.

  61. 61
    mike1962 says:

    SA: Assessing and choosing a different instructor does not automatically make you the ultimate teacher and authority for flying airplanes.

    I didn’t say I was the “ultimate teacher.” As for being an ultimate authority, then yes, in the sense that for myself I am the one who ultimate determines what I believe and accept. How could it be any other way?

    Here’s how this all started:

    Mapou: I refuse to allow anybody to preach to me or to interpret anything for me. I’ll take my chances with my own interpretation, thank you.

    You: This would tell me that you believe yourself to be the highest possible authority in determining what is correct in the Bible. Right?

    Me: He is for himself. As you are for yourself. If you have a choice, there can be no other way.

    Now, Mapou, like myself, is open minded to all kinds of sources and opinions on a matter, as he said, “All I’m saying is keep searching always. And there is nothing wrong with comparing notes with others. I often take a look at the opinion of others.”

    SA: That’s a different issue. You’ve gotten on to this notion of following blindly. As above, a person recognizes and chooses an authority greater than himself, that means he is not the highest authority.

    You are the highest authority for yourself in what you will accept even from someone whom you consider to be an authority. Just like presidents do with their cabinet advisors. But the buck stops with you with regard to what you finally accept. That deserves the adjective of “ultimate.”

    The people submitted to and obeyed the authoritative teachers. They didn’t make up their own interpretations and just follow that.

    I don’t say they did. It’s not about making up whatever interpretation willy nilly you happen to fancy or wish for. It’s about honestly trying to find the right one, then accepting it for as long as it appears to be the right one. Ultimately (and that is the key word here) the buck always stops with the individual. Sometimes we make mistakes and have to change what we think is true and who we think a valid authority is. This is because our rational critical analyzer is still properly functioning, unless we have allowed our emotions to cloud our reason. As it should be.

    The buck stops here (for myself.)

  62. 62
    Silver Asiatic says:

    mike1962

    Are you saying you uncritically accept everything they pronounce as true doctrine? If so, we’ve come to the end, because somehow you dispensed with your ability to critically analyze them.

    I have critically analyzed every doctrine the Catholic Church teaches, to the best of my ability. But the fact is, I have very limited capabilities to determine exactly what the apostolic tradition is in many cases. So most of my belief is trust. Because the Church is established by Christ, and I have reason to believe in his divine nature, I have reason to uncritically accept the doctrines.

    At the same time, the Catholic doctrines are fixed. It’s a finite, unchanging set of beliefs given by Christ. Once I accept the consistency and evidence of authenticity of those beliefs, I don’t need to keep critically judging them. The only thing I would judge if is the Catholic Church was ever inconsistent with itself – in other words, if it reversed something that was already defined in a Council, Creed or official papal text. Then the authority of the Catholic Church would collapse. But that has never happened in the 2000 year history, so I feel my trust is well-placed.

    If not, what is the limit of what you would tolerate before deciding they are not what you currently think they are?

    As above, if an official teaching conflicted with any defined Catholic doctrine, then there would be an inconsistency that Christ’s promise was false (that the gates of hell would never prevail against his church). That would be an indication that Christ is not divine and therefore not worthy of belief.

    That is another reason why private interpretation doesn’t work for me. If nobody can know for certain what the true, required teachings of Christianity really are, and people are free to come up with whatever opinions they want in interpreting doctrine, then Christ did not leave much of a religion for anyone to follow. This is a major problem, as I see it.

    We could say “you can find out for yourself” but clearly that’s not the case since sincere Christians come up with radically different ideas. If we said that “none of the doctrines that people disagree about are really important”, then that would eliminate the need for huge parts of the Bible itself.

  63. 63
    Silver Asiatic says:

    mike1962

    You are the highest authority for yourself in what you will accept

    True, but that’s completely different from being the highest authority on what the true interpretation of the Bible is.

    You’re arguing a different point.

  64. 64
    mike1962 says:

    SA: I have very limited capabilities to determine exactly what the apostolic tradition is in many cases… Because the Church is established by Christ

    What you mean really is that you believe the Roman Catholic Church is the church that was established by Christ, right?

    Using your “very limited capabilities” how did you come to the conclusion that the RCC is the church established by Christ? And are the “very limited capabilities” you used in determining this infallible?

    My point here should be obvious, which came first, an uncritical trust in the divine sanction of the Magisterium, or an independent conclusion of yours about the divine sanction of the Magisterium?

    Moreover, if it turns out you are wrong about either an uncritical faith in the Magisterium, in the first case, or and incorrect assessment in the latter, who is responsible for any consequences following those choices?

  65. 65
    mike1962 says:

    Mike1962: You are the highest authority for yourself in what you will accept

    SA: True, but that’s completely different from being the highest authority on what the true interpretation of the Bible is.

    I never claimed otherwise.

    Sidebar: The effective difference is moot. There is no way to settle the argument over who or what might be the ultimate interpreter. Honest people do what they can. And in the end, it all boils down to an individual choice about what individuals think and believe about what or who the ultimate arbiters are and are not. That you place your trust in a body of men who claim to be divinely sanctioned to be the “true interpreters” neither settles the issue of ultimate interpreters, nor does it get you off the hook for your own personal responsibility.

    At any rate, if you sincerely believe the Magisterium of the RCC is the ultimate interpreter, that is fine and dandy. But you are still in the position of ultimate arbiter for yourself since you have a choice of whether or not you accept them as such. You are the “presiding judge” for yourself, as it were, and it cannot be otherwise.

  66. 66
    Mapou says:

    I want to see the Pope walk on water. Until then, he’s just another man wearing a funny robe to me. Same goes to all other preachers in every religion on earth. At least, Pharaoh’s priests could turn water into blood and sticks into serpents. I would have much more trust in Pharaoh’s priests and Gods than in the Pope.

  67. 67
    mike1962 says:

    Mapou: I want to see the Pope walk on water.

    That would be interesting. Although, even if he did that, I doubt I would place any faith in him. Miracles can be faked. And Satan, assuming he exists, is presumed to have great powers that will be manifested in the last days.

    Pharaoh’s priests could turn water into blood and sticks into serpents.

    Assuming the story is literally true in the first place. I have my serious doubts given the dirt history of the Levant. I consider the Exodus to be a morality play of sorts, that gave Israel a “history of origin” and contained prophetical and future soteriological elements. But this probably isn’t the time nor place.

  68. 68
    Mapou says:

    mike1962 @67,

    Like I said, it’s all a matter of interpretation and we all have our own. Good luck with yours.

  69. 69
    mike1962 says:

    Mapou: Good luck with yours.

    Thanks. You too.

  70. 70
    Mapou says:

    That would be interesting, wouldn’t it. Although, even if he did that, I doubt I would place any faith in him. Miracles can be faked.

    He could fly around like superman but buck naked. That would convince me.

  71. 71
    Querius says:

    Mapou retorted,

    He could fly around like superman but buck naked. That would convince me.

    Actually, I don’t think so. After all, images can be Photoshopped and YouTube videos can be faked. Be honest with yourself. You’d first think it was an obvious spoof; later on, a clever one.

    For example, consider this:

    http://www.miraclesofthesaints.....ts-in.html

    Notice that the (sometimes hostile) witnesses included the Pope.

    Convinced? Didn’t think so. 😉

    -Q

  72. 72
    Mapou says:

    Querius, I want to see it with my own eyes. No videos, no pictures, no witness testimonies, no tricks. Not even a superhero cape. And while we’re at it, commanding Stephen Hawking to get up from his wheelchair and do a breakdance would be very impressive too. LOL.

  73. 73
    Querius says:

    And a million dollars in my bank account, and a personal invitation from (fill in the blank), a voice from heaven, and a brand new car.

    And then you would have “faith.” Did I get it right?

    You would simply tell yourself that you were “lucky,” which of course is improbable, but Bound to Happen somewhere in the world to someone.

    Of course if a bunch of Really Bad Things would happen to you all at once, most people would likely blame God right away.

    So. Between those two choices—really amazing and wonderful, or really horrible and devastating—what would get Mapou’s attention, resulting in a sincere desire to meet God on his own terms. Be completely honest with yourself!

    My guess is neither.

    -Q

  74. 74
    Mapou says:

    Querius, you are beginning to sound like a preacher man. “to meet God on his own terms?” That’s preacher man talk. All God wants from me is faith. And that’s just between me and God.

  75. 75
    Querius says:

    Mapou,

    Querius, I want to see it with my own eyes. No videos, no pictures, no witness testimonies, no tricks. Not even a superhero cape. And while we’re at it, commanding Stephen Hawking to get up from his wheelchair and do a breakdance would be very impressive too. LOL.

    Your words.

    -Q

  76. 76
    Mapou says:

    Querius,

    You misunderstand me. I was talking about what it would take to make me believe in the Pope (or any other preacher man), not God. I already believe in God. Here’s what I wrote:

    I want to see the Pope walk on water. Until then, he’s just another man wearing a funny robe to me. Same goes to all other preachers in every religion on earth.

    Now, when Elijah comes, he will restore all things to what they used to be, including the Catholic Church. And I can assure you that Elijah will not be some sanctimonious, pious looking, “don’t like having sex with women” impostor. He’ll be nobody’s “female dog”, as they say.

  77. 77
    computerist says:

    Mapou,

    I agree with you on much, but do you think Christianity would have survived and preserved if it wasn’t for the catholic church including catholic nations who fought for freedom and against tyranny throughout the centuries?

    I understand you feel hatred towards organized religion, but I have come to the conclusion it’s vital.

    Didn’t you once say: “may the best religion win”?

    Now I admit that the catholic church (like most organizations that have ever existed) has many flaws, but I personally think what it stands for atleast in principle, deserves some respect.

    Catholic nations of today remain some of the most religious and peaceful in the world. As much as I love America, I cannot say the same for it as a so called “Christian” nation.

    I do not feel that so called “Christian” America even knows what it means to be religious, or “Christian” for that matter, despite the statistics.

    In Poland (as one example of a very catholic nation), hundreds of thousands of people gather lighting candles to mourn the dead. You don’t see that in America often.

  78. 78
    Mapou says:

    Computerist,

    I have a love-hate relationship with the Catholic Church (and the Protestant Churches). Catholics have presided over some of the most horrific wars in history. They’ve distorted the message of Yahweh to the point that it is now almost unrecognizable. They introduced abominations into the Christian religion such as “saints” worship (especially the Virgin Mary cult), priesthood (we don’t need no priests, Jesus is our priest), confessions, Church communions, and other worthless sacraments that make a mockery of the sacrifice of our savior.

    What is worse, in my opinion, is that they gave their blessing to the most evil economic system in the history of the world when they introduced the idea that the land should be divided and sold for a price rather than being divided among the people for an inheritance as God intended it. Then, when this Satanic system of “fortresses” (i.e., rampant competition and hostility between the classes and the nations) turned the world into the 1% haves cruelly lording it over the 99% have-nots (the slaves), there is always a Pope somewhere to remind us that we should give to the poor and the homeless.

    More than Protestant Churches, the Catholic Church sees itself as an essential cog in the mechanism of salvation. Your sins are not forgiven until some weirdo in a funny robe who does not like the company of women hears your confession and acts as if he speaks for God. Where did all this crap come from? It’s evil. It’s an abomination. The prophet Daniel spoke of the Catholic Church and the way they despised “the desire of women.” Nobody is stupid. If you are a man and you don’t like women, there is something wrong with you and you should not be advising people on how to run their families.

    Having said that, I have to concede that Catholics are indeed Christians and have accomplished beautiful architectural wonders in the name of God and they have not denied his name. That should count for something, I think. But, as I said, God is sending Elijah to prepare the way before him and he will restore all things. I hope for their sake that the Christian Churches clean up their act before Elijah shows up on the world scene because my understanding is that he will not take shit from anybody.

  79. 79
    computerist says:

    Thanks Mapou.

  80. 80
    Mapou says:

    computerist @79,

    You are welcome.

  81. 81
    Querius says:

    Mapou,

    Your post @ 78 cleared up a lot.

    Incidentally, since you like to “roll your own,” I think you’d find the differences between the Masoretic text of the Tanakh and that of the Septuagint and Dead Sea Scrolls interesting.

    Thanks,

    -Q

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