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Messages - Brian Stoffregen

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1
Your Turn / Re: When was the Bible written?
« on: Today at 01:20:41 PM »
The ELCA, on the hand, does not have the inerrant view of Scripture but also has no other authoritative source of teaching. That makes the ELCA qualitatively different from the other bodies in question.


There are many ELCA folks in STS (SOCIETAS TRINITATIS SANCTAE). I don't think one can get more Evangelical Catholic than members of that group.

Quote
Brian, whom you have repeatedly said represents a mainstream scholarly view in the ELCA, in this very thread has admitted that he think truth claims are “law” and that believing this or that about anything has no bearing on salvation, which is universal anyway. That is what you mean by recognizing the authority of the creeds. That isn’t what I mean by authority.

What's wrong with saying that truth claims are law? God's Word comes to us as law. It is a necessary part of our proclamation of God's Word. The problem arises when obedience to the law becomes necessary for salvation. When we proclaim, "You have to do this to be saved," or, "You have to believe this to be saved." The "have to" aspect of Law turns it away from God's uses to salvation by law rather than by grace.


As some folks in the Crossing Community like to say, "We replace 'we have to' with 'we get to'."


2
Your Turn / Re: When was the Bible written?
« on: Yesterday at 07:14:35 PM »
LCMS President Gerald Kieschnick (2001-2010) attended an ELCA Church-Wide Assembly
in his first term.  As an invited guest he called the ELCA a heterodox church body. This was
before the infamous 2009 ELCA Church-Wide Assembly in Minneapolis.  I believe this was
the last time an LCMS President attended an ELCA Church-Wide Assembly.

Bottom Line: The 21st century has seen the LCMS and ELCA grow further apart on a national
level.

Can you substantiate this claim? I don't believe GK would ever say such a thing to the ELCA Church-Wide Assembly.
I heard him speak at the 2009 CWA before the final, big vote, and he certainly discussed not mince words about it. I can’t quote him verbatim, and it was in his warm, southern style, but I remember thinking, wow, he really went there. As I recall he said that if the vote passed it would detail joint efforts with the LCMS because we would be forced to view the ELCA as a heterodox body. Since then the LCMS in convention has declared the ELCA heterodox.


The 2009 Minutes report this about his presentation.

Presiding Bishop Hanson invited the assembly to welcome the Rev. Dr. Gerald B. Kieschnick, president of The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod (LCMS).

Pr. Kieschnick said that 2 Corinthians 5:19–21 has become increasingly meaningful to him, calling it a “humbling privilege and responsibility to know that God is making his appeal through people like you and me.”

Pr. Kieschnick brought greetings on behalf of the LCMS at what he said was a difficult time in the world and church. He commented that Lutherans were no strangers to discord and divisiveness, but, as expressed in the Formula of Concord, “discord can become concord when Christian individuals and Christian church bodies are faithful to the Holy Scriptures.”

Pr. Kieschnick noted that doctrinal differences separate the ELCA and LCMS. Speaking his next words “in deep humility, with a heavy heart and no desire whatsoever to offend,” he said that the decisions of this assembly on same-gender relationships will not only cause additional stress and disharmony within the ELCA but also negatively affect the relationship of the two church bodies. He stated that this “grieves my heart and the hearts of [other Lutherans and Christians] who do not see these decisions as compatible with the Word of God.” He spoke of differences between the two churches in understanding the authority and interpretation of Scripture.

Pr. Kieschnick concluded by saying it was his prayer that God would grant “each of us sensitivity, humility, boldness, courage, faithfulness, and forgiveness as we continue to strive toward God-pleasing harmony and concord in what we believe, teach, and confess.”

Presiding Bishop Hanson thanked Pr. Kieschnick and expressed, in the same spirit of humility and clarity, his deep commitment that “the Confessions that hold us together as Lutherans will be strong enough for us to continue to be in conversation and to respond together to the cries of the world through Lutheran Services in America, Lutheran Immigration and Refugee Service, Lutheran Disaster Response, and chaplaincy services.” He added that he hoped that Pr. Kieschnick would convey the ELCA’s honest commitment to be in conversation with the LCMS and to work together to proclaim Christ through deeds of service.

3
Your Turn / Re: When was the Bible written?
« on: Yesterday at 07:09:18 PM »
LCMS President Gerald Kieschnick (2001-2010) attended an ELCA Church-Wide Assembly
in his first term.  As an invited guest he called the ELCA a heterodox church body. This was
before the infamous 2009 ELCA Church-Wide Assembly in Minneapolis.  I believe this was
the last time an LCMS President attended an ELCA Church-Wide Assembly.

Bottom Line: The 21st century has seen the LCMS and ELCA grow further apart on a national
level.

Can you substantiate this claim? I don't believe GK would ever say such a thing to the ELCA Church-Wide Assembly.


I just checked the minutes of our 2003, 2005, and 2007 Churchwide Assemblies. President Kieschnick spoke at all of them and there was no report of him chastising the ELCA as heterodox. He noted that we have differences.

4
Your Turn / Re: When was the Bible written?
« on: Yesterday at 06:56:06 PM »
...I don't think I've used any translation that I didn't disagree with a way they translated something. ...

This can be taken as a somewhat hubristic statement.  Or, why are you staring at the Lower Colorado when you should be leading Yale Divinity School? 

A perhaps more winsome way of approaching your dilemma is to consider that interpretation and translation is not a Science, it is an Art.  An acquaintance of mine wants us to consider talking about science in terms of ignorance and curiosity, and that 'certainty' is a human conceit.

In his book 'Helgoland: Making Sense of the Quantum Revolution', physicist Carlo Rovelli opined,

'I believe that one of the greatest mistakes made by human beings is to want certainties when trying to understand something. The search for knowledge is not nourished by certainty: it is nourished by a radical absence of certainty. Thanks to the acute awareness of our ignorance, we are open to doubt and can continue to learn and to learn better. This has always been the strength of scientific thinking—thinking born of curiosity, revolt, change.'

Decades earlier, in 'The First Scientist: Anaximander and His Legacy', Rovelli opined,

'Science, I believe is a passionate search for always newer ways to conceive the world. Its strength lies not in the certainties it reaches but in a radical awareness of the vastness of our ignorance. This awareness allows us to keep questioning our own knowledge, and, thus, to continue learning. Therefore the scientific quest for knowledge is not nourished by certainty, it is nourished by a radical lack of certainty. Its way is fluid, capable of continuous evolution, and has immense strength and a subtle magic. It is able to overthrow the order of things and reconceive the world time and again.'

The element of Faith in God does not often enter into discussions dependent upon belief in Science, Art - or the Art subset of translation and interpretation.


I have often said that translation involves both science and art. There is a science to translating: following the rules of grammar and definitions given by the lexicons for both the source and the receptor languages. There is an art in translating that seeks to convey the meaning of the source language (discovered by the science of translating) and express it both as accurately and as artfully as possible.


One of the "translators" of the original Jerusalem Bible was J. R. R. Tolkien. I don't know if he knew anything about Hebrew or Greek, but he knew how to construct sentences in English.

5
Your Turn / Re: When was the Bible written?
« on: Yesterday at 12:27:41 PM »
As always the conversation meanders.  I don't think this at all:  There is an element of the E-C movement (and the alpb) that really seems to want the second half of the 20th Century (culminating about 1987) trapped in amber. , for what it's worth.

What I do believe firmly is that the evangelical and catholic movement endures, is for these times and for the times to come.  Most specifically to your comments it is not anchored in the doctrine of inerrant Scripture.  Most specifically from my perspective it is anchored in a high view of Scripture that sees it as efficacious, soteriological and christological at core, and as the infallible norma normans.  The word "catholic" is inclusive of those from many Christian faith groups with a high view of Scripture using hermeneutical principles tested and refined through the centuries with direct connection to Scripture through the Church's liturgy, sacraments and mission from the altar, font and pulpit out into the world for the sake of the Gospel.

Dave Benke


I believe that within the ELCA, we have a high view of the inspiration of Scripture without believing it is inerrant nor infallible. God is speaking to us through his Word, which was written down, copied, and translated by fallible, sinful humans who make errors. Similarly, as I've said before, we sinful, fallible, errant preachers proclaim God's Word in sermon, and God uses our words to create and nurture the faith of those who hear. God certainly works through words that come from errant and fallible and sinful sources. Sometimes we may even conclude that our preaching is inspired!

6
Your Turn / Re: When was the Bible written?
« on: Yesterday at 12:22:15 PM »
Peter:
I don't think there was any reason for even the most hard core ELCA revisionist to feel personally insulted by my impressions.

Me:
You also do not think there is any reason for women to be insulted by your impressions, but at least two who read your words here are. And “hard-core revisionist”? Your pejorative words and equally insulting.
You chart a course for “us” that leads inevitably to a Gospel-denying, lawless universalism. (Agreed that some have gone that way.) But were I to chart your route to a Gospel-denying, biblicistic, wooden-headed, law-powered original-autograph literalism, you would object. Or maybe you wouldn’t.
People take offense at inoffensive things at their pleasure. At any rate, the phrase "even the most hard core revisionist" deliberately identifies fringe of the fringe to make the point that even they need not take offense. It did not refer to anyone in this forum, not even you, if you can imagine that. And it isn't an offensive phrase even if it were applied to anyone in this forum. I refer to hard core traditionalists, hard core liturgy guys, etc. all the time. It is a descriptor that works and that the people to whom it applies recognize with pride. You can call me a hard core pro-lifer all you want. That's what I am.

My point is that "where some have gone" in the ELCA is someplace that the ELCA has rendered itself powerless to prevent others going, and as the generation that was formed by the pre-ELCA churches dies off, the ELCA will itself as a body in the place where some have already gone. You might I am wrong about that. Okay. What is your argument or evidence? Simply claiming to be insulted by the thesis isn't anything but what someone (Lionel Trilling?) famously described conservativism as, that is, "an irritable mental gesture." You might think the LCMS leads inevitably to wooden-headed anti-Gospel literalism, and if you do indeed think that and posted it I would not be offended, I would simply know you are wrong and could show you why. Biblical inerrantism, rightly or wrongly, provides a guardrail against denying the Gospel because (get this) the Gospel is Biblical. So if some inerrantists in the LCMS descend into anti-Gospel legalism, the inerrantist LCMS retains the wherewithal to corral them and call them to repentance. That is the difference. Note that the very first line of my recent series of posts on this topic is, "The inerrantist position risks becoming biblicism, but..." The RC position risks becoming ultra-montanism, too. But it contains within itself the ability to contain that risk. The ELCA has nothing with which to curtail movement to "where some have gone."


The ELCA folks see ourselves as so Gospel-affirming; that is, salvation by God's grace alone - a grace that is even behind the faith we've been given to receive God's saving grace - that puts all the demands of the law in their proper place.


As one speaker said back in the early 90s as discussions about homosexuality were arising in the ELCA (as I remember it): it's precisely our commitment to salvation by grace that is bringing about this discussion. That is, our discussions was not so much about the law and homosexuals, but about the application of God's grace to sinners - and that includes all of us.

7
Your Turn / Re: When was the Bible written?
« on: Yesterday at 12:09:59 PM »
What do you do with all the footnotes in modern translations that indicate errors in manuscripts, uncertainty in translations?

I tell people that there is some question about the manuscript and some things are hard to translate. Your point being? I also point out that none of these manuscript issues is really all that important.

Scholars make guesses as to the correct words in ancient manuscripts when there are differences. They make guesses when they aren't sure what the text means. Even their choice of words in translating become interpretations.

You seriously think textual critics simply "make guesses" as to the correct text?. You think translators simply "make guesses" as to how something should be translated?

I think they work really hard to figure out the best text and do so to the best of their ability. I think when they come across an unclear passage they look to other languages to see how they translated it, they see if there is any help in related languages, and they do their best based on their research.

I wouldn't call that a "guess" but you do you.


There are guesses and there are educated guesses. I am certain that text editors and translators do the very best they can. Also publishers. There are the issues of what best guess translation to put in the text and which variants or other translations should be in a footnote.


I don't think I've used any translation that I didn't disagree with a way they translated something. A major one that Mark Allan Powell talks about is Matthew 28:17. Most English translations have: “When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted” (NRSV, ESV, NIV, CEB, boldface added).


Powell writes about this:
… I want to note that the word some is not actually found in the Greek Bible. Why is it in the English version? Well, Matthew uses a particular construction here that allows translators to think that the word some could be implied. He also uses that construction in seventeen other instances, though no one ever seems to think the word is implied in those cases. It could be implied here, but why would it be? I asked a Bible translator that question one time and got the following response: “The verse wouldn’t make sense otherwise. No one can worship and doubt at the same time.” I invited this fellow to visit a Lutheran church. We do it all the time. [Loving Jesus, p. 121]

That's not a guess. That's an interpretation. That's why translation is an art, not a science.

This is one of the reasons why my first Greek professor--Norman Gienapp at St. Paul's College in Concordia, MO--used to tell us that there really is no such thing as a literal Bible translation and event the very best is only a commentary on the original.

In terms of textual criticism, there are general rules that are followed (speaking about the New Testament). These comes from Metzger.

Yeah, read the book. All you are pointing out is that textual criticism is also an art and not a science.

Sometimes, considering the manuscript as much of a matter of the interpreter's viewpoint as much as anything else. Case in point is Fred Danker's book Jesus and the New Age. Overall, just excellent. But he is convinced that Elizabeth, not Mary, sang the Magnificat. He admits that he has no basis for that claim in any Greek manuscript, only some later Latin ones. But, as he reads the story, it makes more sense for Elizabeth to sing it, so he says she does.

But he is not guessing. He is making an interpretation.

Hey, if you want to say that much of your interpretation of Scripture is nothing but guesswork, I'm not going to argue with you.


Interpretations are our educated guesses at the meaning of the text.

8
Your Turn / Re: Luther and The Apocrypha/Deutercanonical Books
« on: August 03, 2021, 08:47:29 PM »
It has not only been Protestants who have considered the Deuterocanonical Books and the Apocrypha as of lesser canonical status. They were also excluded from the Masoretic Text and were not recognized as being as authoritative by Rabbinic Judaism. The distinction certainly did not begin with Luther.


It somewhat began with Jerome. Up until his Vulgate, the LXX, was the Christian Old Testament. It included the Apocrypha. It may be an accident of location, but Jerome, living in Bethlehem, had access to Hebrew scriptures. He believed that they were more original than the Greek that the Christians were using. Athanasius, living in Alexandria, the home of the Septuagint, disagreed. Jerome had originally separated the apocrypha from the Old Testament, but the separation didn't last - not until Luther.


I suspect that as Christians and Jews became two separate religions; one distinction was that the Christians used the LXX for their scriptures and the Jews used the Hebrew. They had different scriptures. Besides the additional books in the LXX, the writings were in a different order.

9
Your Turn / Re: When was the Bible written?
« on: August 03, 2021, 08:36:45 PM »
What do you do with all the footnotes in modern translations that indicate errors in manuscripts, uncertainty in translations?

I tell people that there is some question about the manuscript and some things are hard to translate. Your point being? I also point out that none of these manuscript issues is really all that important.

Scholars make guesses as to the correct words in ancient manuscripts when there are differences. They make guesses when they aren't sure what the text means. Even their choice of words in translating become interpretations.

You seriously think textual critics simply "make guesses" as to the correct text?. You think translators simply "make guesses" as to how something should be translated?

I think they work really hard to figure out the best text and do so to the best of their ability. I think when they come across an unclear passage they look to other languages to see how they translated it, they see if there is any help in related languages, and they do their best based on their research.

I wouldn't call that a "guess" but you do you.


There are guesses and there are educated guesses. I am certain that text editors and translators do the very best they can. Also publishers. There are the issues of what best guess translation to put in the text and which variants or other translations should be in a footnote.


I don't think I've used any translation that I didn't disagree with a way they translated something. A major one that Mark Allan Powell talks about is Matthew 28:17. Most English translations have: “When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted” (NRSV, ESV, NIV, CEB, boldface added).


Powell writes about this:
… I want to note that the word some is not actually found in the Greek Bible. Why is it in the English version? Well, Matthew uses a particular construction here that allows translators to think that the word some could be implied. He also uses that construction in seventeen other instances, though no one ever seems to think the word is implied in those cases. It could be implied here, but why would it be? I asked a Bible translator that question one time and got the following response: “The verse wouldn’t make sense otherwise. No one can worship and doubt at the same time.” I invited this fellow to visit a Lutheran church. We do it all the time. [Loving Jesus, p. 121]


In terms of textual criticism, there are general rules that are followed (speaking about the New Testament). These comes from Metzger.

External Evidence
A. The date and character of the witnesses
     1. Earlier manuscripts generally have fewer errors (not copied as often)                 
     2. Character of the text – careful copyist or not         
B. The geographical distribution of the witnesses
     1. The more geographically widespread the reading, the more likely of being original.
     2. However, different geographical texts may have come from a common source.         
C. The genealogical relationship of texts and families of witnesses                 
     1. The number of texts containing the reading may be significant,
     2. but not if all were copies of the same original.
D. Witnesses are weighed rather than counted.
     1. More trustworthy manuscripts are generally given more weight.
     2. E.g., the oldest text may not be the most trustworthy.
 
Internal Evidence        
A. Transcriptional Probabilities
     1. Generally the most difficult reading is to be preferred
     2. Generally the shorter reading is to be preferred, except
          a. the copyist seems to have skipped back and repeated a section
          b. the copyist omitted material which he deemed to be
               1) superfluous
               2) harsh
               3) contrary to pious belief, liturgical usage, or ascetical practice
     3. Generally the reading not harmonious with parallels is to be preferred
     4. Copyist would sometimes
          a. replace an unfamiliar word with a more familiar synonym
          b. alter outdated grammar or word with a more contemporary form
          c. add pronouns, conjunctions, and expletives to make a smoother text
B. Intrinsic Probabilities                 
     1. Generally                       
          a. the style and vocabulary of the author throughout the book                       
          b. the immediate context                       
          c. harmony with the usage of the author elsewhere                 
     2. In the Gospels                       
          a. the Aramaic background of Jesus' teaching                       
          b. the priority of the Mark                       
          c. the influence of the Christian community upon the transmission of the text

10
Your Turn / Re: When was the Bible written?
« on: August 03, 2021, 08:14:37 PM »

What do you do with all the footnotes in modern translations that indicate errors in manuscripts, uncertainty in translations? I don't believe anyone can claim that the Bibles we read today do not contain errors. Scholars make guesses as to the correct words in ancient manuscripts when there are differences. They make guesses when they aren't sure what the text means. Even their choice of words in translating become interpretations.


With regard to copying errors, where the text of scripture was copied by hand over a period of many centuries, the errors may be fewer than imagined.

There is a quaint little town, Avranches, in northern France, just across the bay from Mont Saint-Michel, that is home to a well-known museum, the Scriptorial d'Avranches, containing dozens of copies of ancient and medieval copies of scripture; not all of them complete, many of them from the Abbey at Mont Saint-Michel.  When you examine these texts, what is noticeable are the comments and various markings in the margins of the pages.  The copies made in the monasteries, cathedral schools, and nascent universities from the sixth through the fourteenth centuries show that there were editors who supervised the copying, correcting errors; and then there are other notes in the margins from the master redactors, making sure that the final copy was as faithful as possible to the original possessed by the community.  Did errors ever creep in?  Sure, sometimes.  But there appears to have been, in a great many places, a system of checks and balances devoted to closely scrutinizing the process of copying sacred texts, and specifically attuned to searching out scribal errors.

Pr. Stoffregen, you are particularly fond of using the old "telephone game" in analogously describing the transmission process of what has come down to us as the Bible.  It is part of the structure of the "telephone game" that you have a single line of sequenced individuals passing along a message, and thus possible to note the distortions that can occur by the end of that process.   But it is important to remember that in the transmission of scripture, there are hundreds of transmission lines producing thousands of written copies from dozens of different communities, with monitors stationed all along the numerous transmission lines to ensure, as far as is humanly possible, the faithful transmission of the linguistic form of the original message.  The analogy is not a close fit.

Perhaps a more interesting question is: did those involved in the ancient and medieval industry of copying the biblical manuscript understand that what they were copying was an inerrant and perspicuous text, sufficient unto itself; or did they understand what they were copying was essentially an authoritative ancient sacred text that was used as a primary resource for establishing creedal and doctrinal truths proclaimed by the Church?  I don't know the answer to that one.


Regardless of what checks and balances may have been in place, the manuscripts that we have contain many variant readings. Most are not that significant.


One that comes up in a few weeks in the Revised Common Lectionary is in Mark 7:3. A phrase in the verse is: ἐὰν μὴ πυγμῇ νίψωνται τὰς χεῖρας οὐκ ἐσθίουσιν = "unless with a fist they wash the hands they do not eat."


The NRSV (and probably others, I didn't check) indicate that the meaning is uncertain. Apparently, it was uncertain to some early copyist who changed πυγμή ("fist") to πυκνά ("often, frequently"). This variant is what the KJV and "daughter" translations seem to use.


"With a fist" gets translated (actually interpreted) with "thoroughly wash" or "ceremonial washing" or "carefully wash" or "wash their hands properly."


Of the 60 English translations on Bible Gateway, only four have "fist" in their translation. The translators are guessing at the meaning of the word (a phrase in English). Some could be wrong.


The dictionary defines "inerrant" as "incapable of being wrong." The manuscripts we have, the people who copied them, and the people who translate them are certainly capable of being wrong.


Whatever Christians mean by "inerrant," it isn't the same definition as the dictionary gives.

11
Your Turn / Re: When was the Bible written?
« on: August 03, 2021, 07:36:03 PM »
The only logical thing for a Christian to do if he or she becomes convinced the Bible is not inerrant is go back to Rome or the East.

For what it's worth, and I cannot speak for those in the Catholic Church so perhaps Father Michael or Father Matthew will chime in, our position is a little more nuanced than this might imply.  And I don't mean to suggest the implication is intended, but what I gathered is one either accepts "inerrancy" as Lutherans define it or one thinks the Bible erred.  We don't really believe either of those things.

We believe the Bible is inspired, written by the hand of God through sinful men, and is the truth.  We do not believe the Bible "errs" in the sense that it contains falsehoods.  What we do accept is that 4 different accounts of the Gospel will be told from 4 different perspectives, and therefore there may be discrepancies in what each recorded in the details, but we would say that is proof of the Bible's true witness, not of its falsity.  We don't pit those authors against one another, but rather we accept their harmonious recitation of the Gospel of our Lord as true and accurate, keeping in mind some details simply are not important to that Gospel.

So we do not expect perfection in recounting eyewitness testimony, but we do acknowledge that the Bible is true and does not err in that sense.  You might call it "material inerrancy" if you look at it from an evidentiary standpoint.  We don't need to count the people present at some or another event.  The entire witness of the Evangelists speaks to the event.  We don't need to worry that one Evangelist left something out, as for example St. John, the only Evangelist to be present at the Transfiguration, not mentioning it.  We are pleased to note that others recorded it, and in the case of the Transfiguration, St. John simply dealt with it in his Revelation.
I don't think Rome or the East necessarily thinks the Bible erred. I'm saying both have additional authorities for faith and life in addition to Scripture. The Lutheran demand for proof from Scripture was based on the idea that popes, councils, and traditions can err. But if so can Scripture, then our reason for rejecting the other three is gone; we become simply people who reject authority and revelation in general unless we agree with it. When Lutherans and Protestants decide that the Scriptures are not inerrant, they leave themselves with purely arbitrary doctrinal standards. It would make more sense, then, instead going further down the road of mere negation and authority-lessness to recognize additional, perhaps also fallible authorities to reinforce each other.

I think most theological conservatives, if they became convinced that the Scriptures had erred, would see Rome or the East as logical destinations. I think most theological progressives or revisionists see Unitarian Universalism or a generalized spirituality with a Christian flavor as a logical destination, and either depart their denomination for something akin to that (or nothing but private spirituality) or else try to move their denomination in that direction.


Does scripture err? Yes. Did the apostles sin? Yes. So did the church Fathers who gave us the creeds. However, scriptures, the teachings of the apostle and Fathers, and the creeds remain the authorities for the Christian church.

12
Your Turn / Re: When was the Bible written?
« on: August 03, 2021, 11:39:47 AM »
The only logical thing for a Christian to do if he or she becomes convinced the Bible is not inerrant is go back to Rome or the East.

For what it's worth, and I cannot speak for those in the Catholic Church so perhaps Father Michael or Father Matthew will chime in, our position is a little more nuanced than this might imply.  And I don't mean to suggest the implication is intended, but what I gathered is one either accepts "inerrancy" as Lutherans define it or one thinks the Bible erred.  We don't really believe either of those things.

We believe the Bible is inspired, written by the hand of God through sinful men, and is the truth.  We do not believe the Bible "errs" in the sense that it contains falsehoods.  What we do accept is that 4 different accounts of the Gospel will be told from 4 different perspectives, and therefore there may be discrepancies in what each recorded in the details, but we would say that is proof of the Bible's true witness, not of its falsity.  We don't pit those authors against one another, but rather we accept their harmonious recitation of the Gospel of our Lord as true and accurate, keeping in mind some details simply are not important to that Gospel.

So we do not expect perfection in recounting eyewitness testimony, but we do acknowledge that the Bible is true and does not err in that sense.  You might call it "material inerrancy" if you look at it from an evidentiary standpoint.  We don't need to count the people present at some or another event.  The entire witness of the Evangelists speaks to the event.  We don't need to worry that one Evangelist left something out, as for example St. John, the only Evangelist to be present at the Transfiguration, not mentioning it.  We are pleased to note that others recorded it, and in the case of the Transfiguration, St. John simply dealt with it in his Revelation.


With the gospels (as well as the source theory of the OT) part of the different perspectives is also different audiences. Matthew writing to a Jewish audience introduces the Lord's Prayer with, "When you pray …." It's assumed that his audience already prayed. In Luke's account, the disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray. Luke is writing for a Gentile audience who hadn't learn to pray like the Jews did.

13
Your Turn / Re: When was the Bible written?
« on: August 03, 2021, 11:35:54 AM »
I'm thinking that underlying this conversation are questions about the authority and perspicacity of Scripture.  An ancient Missouri Synod tome is entitled "Does the Bible contradict itself?" by Arndt.  One by one, the various contradictory passages are examined.  Remember the one where the same census is described in a passage written in exactly the same way in Kings and Chronicles as emanating from God (royalists) or Satan (anti-gummint)?  How do we get around that?  It goes to intent - is the census a blessed or cursed thing? 

I actually read an interesting view of this the in a book on the Angel of the Lord. The authors think that we have mistranslated the word "satan" in Chronicles. It should really be "the Adversary." In Numbers 22:22, the Angel of the Lord stands against Balaam as his adversary (yes, his l'satan). Interestingly, in 1 Chronicles 21:1, we are told that the Adversary "stood" against Israel and incited David to count the people. In v. 15 and 16, it is the Angel of the Lord who is "standing" against Jerusalem.

The idea being that the Angel of the Lord is the Adversary. Of course, the Angel of the Lord is...the Lord. Hence no contradiction. And no royalists or "anti-gummit."

Or the difference in the number of people killed by the snakes in the desert - 30000 or 40000?  I would suppose the people who cared most are the 10000 who either died or didn't.

I think you mean 24,000 (Numbers) vs. 23,000 (Paul in 1 Cor. 10). I was reading on this just last week. (Lucky you!) I'm of the opinion that the exact number didn't really matter to Paul nor was it an important issue in the ancient world. He is speaking round numbers; either is close enough. It's the same way with the 30 cubits measuring the circumference of Solomon's Sea in I Kings (and not 31.4 cubits).

The inerrant position is that these apparent contradictions cannot be in fact contradictions, so the original manuscript/vellum would/will settle it.  Should that be a real concern? 

If inerrancy is the be-all, then the answer is Yes.  If the efficacious/infallible perspective is primary, the answer is No.  Scripture accomplishes what it sets out to - to make us wise unto salvation in Christ Jesus, through both Testaments.  Scripture is authoritative in the dimensions of both faith and life that demonstrate the Missio Dei.

One thing to keep in mind about inerrancy is that we have to remember that it is inerrant within the worldview of the authors. What they would not consider to be in error we should not either. For example, due to the smoke from the western fires, there was a really cool sunrise last Wednesday while I was out with my running club. We all stopped to watch it.

Of course, what I just wrote was in error. There is no such thing as a sunrise. The sun is stationary. It is the earth that is moving. But is anyone actually going to say that? Of course not. In the same way, things such as the rabbit chewing the cud isn't an error.

To me, inerrancy is important because it gives a sure Word. Once you undercut inerrancy, eventually you will wind up undercutting the Gospel itself. As Andrew Weyermann said to John Tietjen, "The other side does have a point. How much gospel do you have left if you don't have a historical event in which to ground it? Can we proclaim Jesus as the divine physician if the miracles of healing didn't happen?" (Memoirs in Exile, pp. 55-56) How much gospel do you have? Eventually, not much.


What do you do with all the footnotes in modern translations that indicate errors in manuscripts, uncertainty in translations? I don't believe anyone can claim that the Bibles we read today do not contain errors. Scholars make guesses as to the correct words in ancient manuscripts when there are differences. They make guesses when they aren't sure what the text means. Even their choice of words in translating become interpretations.

14
Your Turn / Re: When was the Bible written?
« on: August 03, 2021, 11:26:10 AM »
The inerrantist position risks becoming Biblicism, but is really the only position that ultimately justifies sola scriptura. Scripture does not infallibly make people wise unto salvation. Lots of people have read the Bible and rejected it. That's just a fact. The Bible is as efficacious as any preaching of the Gospel, and the Spirit works through the Word, but efficaciousness isn't really what distinguishes Scripture from other Gospel-centered words of wisdom from mature Christians. The only logical thing for a Christian to do if he or she becomes convinced the Bible is not inerrant is go back to Rome or the East.
 

Or they can join the ELCA. "Inerrant" and "infallible" were terms we decided not to use in regards to the Bible. There are at least three different "inerrist" views:


1. The Bible contains no errors about anything.
2. The Bible contains some errors, but is inerrant in regards to salvation.
3. The autographs contained no errors, but errors cropped up when copying the texts of the Bible.


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We get our position on the relationship of Christians to civil government, on marriage and moral issues, on praying to saints and the validity or lack thereof of other forms of daily piety from Scripture, not from, say, Thomas Aquinas or St. Augustine. Why? Those topics aren't really Gospel essentials. We do so because Scripture is assuredly God's will for us whereas other writings may or may not be.


We, the errorists, still get our positions from Scriptures; but we emphasize the meaning of the text, especially the meaning we believe the authors intended for their original readers/hearers. There can be layers of meanings: (1) When the events happened, e.g., when Jesus spoke the words. (2) When the stories were written down, e.g., Mark's audience during the Jewish Roman war. (3) Meanings a text may have for the readers of today, (which should grow out of the meanings we discern from the other two historical times).


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Yes, there are seeming contradictions-- how many people died from snake bites, etc. The inerrantist says, well, there must be a mistake somewhere in transmission. But he is also free to say, "I don't know" to the (admittedly tangential) question of why different numbers would be reported in different places. Could be all kinds of reasons, but anyone who for whatever reason truly cares will just have to wait until Judgment Day to ask. THe inerrantist does not have to get tripped up over them or claim to have the authoritative explanation.


Or, as I tell people: as the stories were told around different campfires, some changes occurred in the retelling of the stories. They were written down by different compilers, each seeking to convey the truth as the tradition gave it to him. 

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The real issue is the seeming obsession that the anti-inerrantists have with these seeming contradictions. Why are they so fascinated by them and insistent that the contradiction not be "explained away" as something other than errors and contradictions? What is the real benefit of insisting that the Bible contradicts itself and is not inerrant except when dealing directly with the Gospel, in which case the details aren't the point as long as the main message of salvation in Christ comes through? To me it seems such people are demanding elbow room in the church for people who don't actually believe what the church teaches. The issue is not how many people died from snake bites, but how strictly we can insist that we have to go by the Bible. It is "Gospel reductionist" in the sense that we demand sola scriptura to escape the confines of RC dogma, but then demand, in reality, sola Gospel to escape the confines of Protestant teaching.


I have no doubt that should you and I preach a sermon on the same biblical text, there would be differences in our proclamations. However, I also believe that the saving grace of God would be present in both our proclamations in spite of the differences that would also be found in them.


I've come to believe that when we divide up the trinity of scripture, faith, and grace into separate solos, rather than a trio, we end up heretical. (Like modalism with the divine Trinity.)


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I do not claim to know how to resolve every apparent contradiction in the Bible. But I know I do not trust the people who insist that those contradictions must be understood as contradictions. In my experience such people have some common traits:

1. They tend to view doctrinal assertions as "Law." In other words, when they hear a doctrinal assertion, they hear, "This is what you have to believe," (with belief being a difficult work to perform) rather than, "This is what is true," which can have both Law and Gospel applications.


Yes, "This is what you have to believe" is a statement of law. Doesn't "This is what is true" implies, "This is what you have to believe"?

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2. They tend to be functional universalists. They don't call themselves that, but the phrase accurately describes them. The Gospel is not salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, it is just salvation by grace.


Yup, God so loved the world. Every knee shall bow. Faith is still a part of our salvation, but we emphasize that it is also a gift to us from God. Why God gives it to some and apparently not to others (at least as we can tell), is beyond our pay grade to understand. Your approach of "This is what is true" (and you'd should believe that is it is true), keeps faith as a human work.

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3. They approach denominational differences in teaching as no big deal, really, because their own teachings are, after all, uncertain and really a matter of cultural difference more than anything else.   


Oh, they are a big deal; just not an issue of salvation. For D, God was the source of the census and the problems that came because of it. At that time in Israel's history, monotheism meant that everything good and evil had to come from the one Almighty God. For the Chronicler, written much later, Satan was the source of the evil, so God could be seen as just the source of good.

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4. They tend to think of agnosticism as spiritual maturity and certainty as arrogance or a childish crutch for the weak.


We take seriously the idea that we are not saved by knowledge. Not knowing is not a detriment to God saving us. We certainly believe that when we baptize infants and declare that God has saved them - long before they know anything theological.

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5. They do not trust traditional church teaching on morals, especially on matters of sexuality.


When traditional church teachings come more from culture than scriptures, we will challenge them. Monogamy is never commanded in scriptures. Polygyny was accepted and God even gave some rules to protect the lesser loved wife and children. We challenge tradition as to whether it really came from scriptures or cultural biases when interpreting scriptures.

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Over the course of a generation or two, the faith once handed down sort of dissipates among them like mist. They get more and more irate with traditional believers and find more and more cause to separate themselves from the organized church. All this from having escaped "the hierarchy" into sola scriptura and escaped Scripture into a critical view of it along with every claim to divine authority. The little contradictions are the engine of the whole thing. Witness how tenaciously Brian clings to issues of hair and head coverings to justify the overthrow of church teaching on sexual morality and marriage. He needs, absolutely needs, St. Paul to have been wrong about something in Scripture in order to have room to breath within the church. The Bible's errors contradictions are the oxygen of the agnosticism that allows for a cheery debunking of everything from within.       


Some of us see us doing what Luther did. When the church through the generations had added their own traditions to the biblical witness, we needed to return to the Bible as our authority and not church tradition. We also look at traditions that might have been outside of orthodoxy because those "Fathers" may have imputed their own cultural biases into their interpretations. "Tradition alone" is not one of our solas.

15
Your Turn / Re: When was the Bible written?
« on: August 03, 2021, 10:52:07 AM »
So what is it you are actually asking us, Pr. Stoffregen? It this a question to which you seek answers from us? Or a provocation to discussion? And if the latter, do you already hold the answers that you claim to be seeking?  :-\


I asked, as the title says: "When was the Bible written?" I've provided an answer for the Torah and historical books - that they were written long after the events occurred. That is my answer and my belief. I think that the four source theory (plus the chronicler's history) makes the best sense from the evidence we have. I also know that that's not the only way the question is answered.


Another answer that has been presented is that they were written at the time the events happened.


Still another answer that has been presented is that they were well-trained in oral history, that even though the stories weren't written down at the time, the oral transmission of the stories was very accurate (unlike the usual mistakes when playing "telephone.")


Another answer that has come up in other discussions is that the question is irrelevant, because God wrote it; or God inspired the writers. The truthfulness didn't depend on human transmission, whether oral or written, because God is the author.


For me, practically speaking, understanding D's history is more palatable when it is presented as looking back after the conquest by Babylon to indicate what Israel should have done to avoid this great defeat. Rather than just presenting history as its primary purpose, it presents reasons why God allowed Israel to be conquered by Assyria and Judah to be conquered by Babylon. The look back over the centuries might be modified to better fit the purpose.
In other words, from my questions above, " you already hold the answers that you claim to be seeking."

I'm glad to have been of help.


Yup, I have my answers, but I know that others have other answers. We discuss them. We learn from each other.


I've often said that we don't learn from the people who agree with us. It's those who challenge our answers that causes learning - either to find better arguments for our position when it is challenged, or to consider the logic behind other positions. The arguments for their position may be stronger.

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