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Lewis and Dostoevsky

The man. The myth.

Postby rusmeister » 03 Apr 2008, 02:51

arthur111 wrote:I don't know what "little principal" you are referring to, but maybe Lewis and certainly myself was impressed by Tolstoy's actions ,his denying himself many things (money, power, egotism). In other words, Tolstoy"s works combined and flowing from faith. I feel that Lewis was much in the same vein. Anyway, Lewis thought Tolstoy was the best writer around, and that is sufficient for me. I certainly agree with you that I should read the Gospels And the rest of the New Testament again...and again...and again..etc. I only wish that I could act on them as Lewis and Tolstoy did. Maybe that is One of the main differences between Jesus and the Pharasees.


The principle I was referring to was non-resistance to evil (which screams at you from those books if you look up the links I provided), and Tolstoys independent understanding of it.

Dan, what I fail to communicate to you time and again is that this approach of individual interpretation of the Bible allows anybody to make whatever they want out of it - something that acknowledging an authority in interpretation prevents. Everyone can claim the guidance of the Holy Spirit, contradict each other, come to opposite conclusions and who are you to say they are wrong? You are then falling back on your own intellect to do so and YOU become the authority, not the Holy Spirit. This is what Tolstoy did.
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Postby Dan65802 » 03 Apr 2008, 13:35

rusmeister wrote:Dan, what I fail to communicate to you time and again is that this approach of individual interpretation of the Bible allows anybody to make whatever they want out of it - something that acknowledging an authority in interpretation prevents.


No, you communicate it all the time, it's just that I think you're wrong each time. But I understand you're communicating what you've been taught by your church "authority". How do you know your church is authoritative? Because your church tells you they're authoritative. That may be fine for you, but I have a problem buying into that argument.

rusmeister wrote:Everyone can claim the guidance of the Holy Spirit, contradict each other, come to opposite conclusions and who are you to say they are wrong?


The Holy Spirit aids in the study of the Word. He doesn't do the study for you. Obviously just claiming the guidance of the Holy Spirit doesn't mean a thing and I didn't say it did. My point was that true study with true dependence on the Spirit's guidance results in Truth.

rusmeister wrote:You are then falling back on your own intellect to do so and YOU become the authority, not the Holy Spirit. This is what Tolstoy did.


It's true I believe in using my intellect in studying the Scripture rather than passing off the study to others. That doesn't necessarily make me the authority (the Bible is the authority), but it does make me a responsible party in this equation. And that sort of personal responsibility to interpret and apply the Word of Truth seems to be a pretty biblical principle (cf. 2 Tim. 2:14-16, Phil. 1:9-10).

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Postby rusmeister » 04 Apr 2008, 04:02

Dan65802 wrote:
rusmeister wrote:Dan, what I fail to communicate to you time and again is that this approach of individual interpretation of the Bible allows anybody to make whatever they want out of it - something that acknowledging an authority in interpretation prevents.


No, you communicate it all the time, it's just that I think you're wrong each time. But I understand you're communicating what you've been taught by your church "authority". How do you know your church is authoritative? Because your church tells you they're authoritative. That may be fine for you, but I have a problem buying into that argument.

Actually, I agree with you. But I wouldn't defend the position that I believe there must be an authoritative Church with a physical presence because 'they tell me to'. It is precisely my reason that led me to the conclusion of a necessity for it, and of the impossibility of being able to 'rightly divide the Word of Truth' on one's own. The problem then became one of determining where that Authority is. Once you find it, THEN you should submit yourself to it.

If we play a game of Risk or Monopoly, we cannot resolve a conflict that is either not (seemingly) covered by the rules or having seeming contradictions. We can fight - and end the game, we can agree, but we cannot disagree and continue to play the game...unless - we submit to an authority that we accept who tells us what is the right understanding, whether we like it or not (if you prefer, we can use the analogy of a legal document). The one thing we CANNOT do in these instances is refer to the rulebook or document as 'the authority'. No written document can resolve issues internal to the interpretation of that document. This requires an Arbiter, at once both living and immortal. The Church.

Dan65802 wrote:
rusmeister wrote:Everyone can claim the guidance of the Holy Spirit, contradict each other, come to opposite conclusions and who are you to say they are wrong?


The Holy Spirit aids in the study of the Word. He doesn't do the study for you. Obviously just claiming the guidance of the Holy Spirit doesn't mean a thing and I didn't say it did. My point was that true study with true dependence on the Spirit's guidance results in Truth.


And again, from your argument, if I claim a truth that is different from yours, with true study and true dependence on the Spirit's guidance you cannot say that I am wrong, because the Holy Spirit is guiding me - and He's telling me that you are wrong.
Whatever is the Truth, this cannot be it.
(Point being, who is to say what is true study with true dependence? This is where that external authority becomes necessary.)

Dan65802 wrote:
rusmeister wrote:You are then falling back on your own intellect to do so and YOU become the authority, not the Holy Spirit. This is what Tolstoy did.


It's true I believe in using my intellect in studying the Scripture rather than passing off the study to others. That doesn't necessarily make me the authority (the Bible is the authority), but it does make me a responsible party in this equation. And that sort of personal responsibility to interpret and apply the Word of Truth seems to be a pretty biblical principle (cf. 2 Tim. 2:14-16, Phil. 1:9-10).

I agree completely with using your intellect and not passing off study. But the logical conclusion of that is that it really our study and knowledge that leads us to a correct understanding of salvation. Sounds like Gnosticism to me - only an intellectual elite could be saved. Dummies like me who don't come to that truth are probably damned to hell a la Jack Chick (I really lapped his stuff up as a teen) because we came to the wrong conclusions.
This also cannot be the Truth.

I hope it's obvious why I won't engage in Scripture quoting with you - but I'll still spell out that we could go back and forth forever because both of us are fallible interpreters, and this is not the way to arrive at the discernment Paul was praying for. I don't question Scripture at all. I DO question your interpretation of it, and for the same reasons am equally suspicious of an interpretation I would come up with on my own.
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G.K. Chesterton on Tolstoy

Postby rusmeister » 04 Apr 2008, 04:55

GKC offers an amazing contemporary view of Tolstoy:

TOLSTOY
If any one wishes to form the fullest estimate of the real character and influence of the great man whose name is prefixed to these remarks, he will not find it in his novels, splendid as they are, or in his ethical views, clearly and finely as they are conceived and expanded. He will find it best expressed in the news that has recently come from Canada, that a sect of Russian Christian anarchists has turned all its animals loose, on the ground that it is immoral to possess them or control them. About such an incident as this there is a quality altogether independent of the rightness or wrongness, the sanity or insanity, of the view. It is first and foremost a reminder that the world is still young. There are still theories of life as insanely reasonable as those which were disputed under the clear blue skies of Athens. There are still examples of a faith as fierce and practical as that of the Mahometans, who swept across Africa and Europe, shouting a single word. To the languid contemporary politician and philosopher it seems doubtless like something out of a dream, that in this iron-bound, homogeneous, and clockwork age, a company of European men in boots and waistcoats should begin to insist on taking the horse out of the shafts of the omnibus, and lift the pig out of his pig-sty, and the dog out of his kennel, because of a moral scruple or theory. It is like a page from some fairy farce to imagine the Doukhabor solemnly escorting a hen to the door of the yard and bidding it a benevolent farewell as it sets out on its travels. All this, as I say, seems mere muddle-headed absurdity to the typical leader of human society in this decade, to a man like Mr. Balfour, or Mr. Wyndham. But there is nevertheless a further thing to be said, and that is that, if Mr. Balfour could be converted to a religion which taught him that he was morally bound to walk into the House of Commons on his hands, and he did walk on his hands, if Mr. Wyndham could accept a creed which taught that he ought to dye his hair blue, and he did dye his hair blue, they would both of them be, almost beyond description, better and happier men than they are. For there is only one happiness possible or conceivable under the sun, and that is enthusiasm--that strange and splendid word that has passed through so many vicissitudes, which meant, in the eighteenth century the condition of a lunatic, and in ancient Greece the presence of a god.

This great act of heroic consistency which has taken place in Canada is the best example of the work of Tolstoy. It is true (as I believe) that the Doukhabors have an origin quite independent of the great Russian moralist, but there can surely be little doubt that their emergence into importance and the growth and mental distinction of their sect, is due to his admirable summary and justification of their scheme of ethics. Tolstoy, besides being a magnificent novelist, is one of the very few men alive who have a real, solid, and serious view of life. He is a Catholic church, of which he is the only member, the somewhat arrogant Pope and the somewhat submissive layman. He is one of the two or three men in Europe, who have an attitude towards things so entirely their own, that we could supply their inevitable view on anything--a silk hat, a Home Rule Bill, an Indian poem, or a pound of tobacco. There are three men in existence who have such an attitude: Tolstoy, Mr. Bernard Shaw, and my friend Mr. Hilaire Belloc. They are all diametrically opposed to each other, but they all have this essential resemblance, that, given their basis of thought, their soil of conviction, their opinions on every earthly subject grow there naturally, like flowers in a field. There are certain views of certain things that they must take; they do not form opinions, the opinions form themselves. Take, for instance, in the case of Tolstoy, the mere list of miscellaneous objects which I wrote down at random above, a silk hat, a Home Rule Bill, an Indian poem, and a pound of tobacco. Tolstoy would say: "I believe in the utmost possible simplification of life; therefore, this silk hat is a black abortion." He would say: "I believe in the utmost possible simplification of life; therefore, this Home Rule Bill is a mere peddling compromise; it is no good to break up a centralised empire into nations, you must break the nation up into individuals." He would say: "I believe in the utmost possible simplification of life; therefore, I am interested in this Indian poem, for Eastern ethics, under all their apparent gorgeousness, are far simpler and more Tolstoyan than Western." He would say: "I believe in the utmost possible simplification of life; therefore, this pound of tobacco is a thing of evil; take it away." Everything in the world. from the Bible to a bootjack, can be, and is, reduced by Tolstoy to this great fundamental Tolstoyan principle, the simplification of life. When we deal with a body of opinion like this we are dealing with an incident in the history of Europe infinitely more important than the appearance of Napoleon Buonaparte.

This emergence of Tolstoy, with his awful and simple ethics, is important in more ways than one. Among other things it is a very interesting commentary on an attitude which has been taken up for the matter of half a century by all the avowed opponents of religion. The secularist and the sceptic have denounced Christianity first and foremost, because of its encouragement of fanaticism; because religious excitement led men to burn their neighbours and to dance naked down the street. How queer it all sounds now. Religion can be swept out of the matter altogether, and still there are philosophical and ethical theories which can produce fanaticism enough to fill the world. Fanaticism has nothing at all to do with religion. There are grave scientific theories which, if carried out logically, would result in the same fires in the market-place and the same nakedness in the street. There are modern esthetes who would expose themselves like the Adamites if they could do it in elegant attitudes. There are modern scientific moralists who would burn their opponents alive, and would be quite contented if they were burnt by some new chemical process. And if any one doubts this proposition--that fanaticism has nothing to do with religion, but has only to do with human nature--let him take this case of Tolstoy and the Doukhabors. A sect of men start with no theology at all, but with the simple doctrine that we ought to love our neighbour and use no force against him, and they end in thinking it wicked to carry a leather handbag, or to ride in a cart. A great modern writer who erases theology altogether, denies the validity of the Scriptures and the Churches alike, forms a purely ethical theory that love should be the instrument of reform, and ends by maintaining that we have no right to strike a man if he is torturing a child before our eyes. He goes on, he develops a theory of the mind and the emotions, which might be held by the most rigid atheist, and he ends by maintaining that the sexual relation out of which all humanity has come, is not only not moral, but is positively not natural. This is fanaticism as it has been and as it will always be. Destroy the last copy of he Bible, and persecution and insane orgies will be founded on Mr. Herbert Spencer's "Synthetic Philosophy." Some of the broadest thinkers of the Middle Ages believed in faggots, and some of the broadest thinkers in the nineteenth century believe in dynamite.

The truth is that Tolstoy, with his immense genius, with his colossal faith, with his vast fearlessness and vast knowledge of life, is deficient in one faculty and one faculty alone. He is not a mystic: and therefore he has a tendency to go mad. Men talk of the extravagances and frenzies that have been produced by mysticism: they are a mere drop in the bucket. In the main, and from the beginning of time, mysticisrn has kept men sane. The thing that has driven them mad was logic. It is significant that, with all that has been said about the excitability of poets, only one English poet ever went mad, and he went mad from a logical system of theology. He was Cowper, and his poetry retarded his insanity for many years. So poetry, in which Tolstoy is deficient, has always been a tonic and sanative thing. The only thing that has kept the race of men from the mad extremes of the convent and the pirate-galley, the night-club and the lethal chamber, has been mysticism-the belief that logic is misleading, and that things are not what they seem.

G. K. CHESTERTON.

http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/books/tolstoy.html

For an attractive online bookform (with photos and everything):

http://www.openlibrary.org/details/leotolstoy00chesuoft

(Note - this is a book with several articles on Tolstoy, Chesterton's being the first. Just so you don't think all of the chapters are by GKC. I'm just posting his comments.)

From this standpoint, even his non-resistance to evil becomes a gross oversimplification of Christ's teachings.
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Postby Dan65802 » 04 Apr 2008, 13:52

rusmeister wrote:the impossibility of being able to 'rightly divide the Word of Truth' on one's own.


If it was impossible, you'd think Paul probably wouldn't have encouraged an individual (and by extension all Christians) to do it.

rusmeister wrote:If we play a game of Risk or Monopoly, we cannot resolve a conflict that is either not (seemingly) covered by the rules or having seeming contradictions.


I did not play Risk in college because I was socially adept and was able to get dates. However I have played Monopoly. If you're comparing the rules of Monopoly to the Bible, then I would say if you've got something not covered by the rules it's 1) not part of the game and 2) not worth arguing about. It's when people try to add things to the rules of the game that things get confusing.

rusmeister wrote:The one thing we CANNOT do in these instances is refer to the rulebook or document as 'the authority'. No written document can resolve issues internal to the interpretation of that document.


And that's our basic disagreement. I believe the Bible to be its own best interpreter.

rusmeister wrote:And again, from your argument, if I claim a truth that is different from yours, with true study and true dependence on the Spirit's guidance you cannot say that I am wrong, because the Holy Spirit is guiding me - and He's telling me that you are wrong.


I most absolutely can say you're wrong. Just because we both claim the same reasoning for our correctness doesn't take away my faith in what I believe the Bible says clearly.

rusmeister wrote:But the logical conclusion of that is that it really our study and knowledge that leads us to a correct understanding of salvation. Sounds like Gnosticism to me - only an intellectual elite could be saved. Dummies like me who don't come to that truth are probably damned to hell


You've got a partial truth there. It is our knowledge that allows us to have a correct understanding of what Salvation is. But it doesn't take an intellectual to understand it. Even "dummies" can understand the simplicity of salvation.

rusmeister wrote:I hope it's obvious why I won't engage in Scripture quoting with you


Yes it is. I also hope it's obvious why I depend on Scripture as my authority for my faith and for the practice of my life.

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Postby Stanley Anderson » 04 Apr 2008, 14:42

Dan65802 wrote:I believe the Bible to be its own best interpreter.


Maybe some concrete examples would help illuminate the usefulness or murkiness of this statement.

I think you might agree that many very studious and attentive people would interpret in quite different ways (and could possibly claim, as you do above, that it is the Bible interpreting itself and that the one they subscribe to is the best interpretation) the passage where Jesus calls Peter the rock upon which he would build his Church. I suspect you might come to a different conclusion about its meaning than I? Is the Bible interpreting itself there? Does it interpret itself properly only when it happens to agree with the interpretation you agree with? (or equally of course with the one I happen to agree with?)

There has been much debate about whether a virgin shall conceive or only a young girl and what that means for Christian theology and belief. Does the Bible interpret itself there? Or what about "Take, eat; this is my body" and "this is my blood"? Are there different interpretations among Christian denominations of those passages? Which is the one the Bible interprets for itself?

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Postby Dan65802 » 04 Apr 2008, 16:02

Stanley Anderson wrote:
Dan65802 wrote:I believe the Bible to be its own best interpreter.


Maybe some concrete examples would help illuminate the usefulness or murkiness of this statement.


Sure, happy to help. Here's one: In 1 Timothy 2:11-15, Paul tells Timothy women shouldn't teach men in church. However, this seems to be a contradiction since Paul commends women in ministry in other places, even calling one an apostle. If we use the Bible as it's own interpreter it clears up the confusion. Timonthy was pastoring in Ephesus, and if we look at the context we get a clearer picture of the Ephesian women. 1 Timothy 2 hints that the women in the Ephesian church had a problem with modesty, decency and propriety. Chapter five tells us that some of them were idlers, gossips and busybodies. 2 Timothy 3 tells us that there were false teachers decieving these weak women. It's no surprise that Paul didn't want these deceived women to teach the men in the Ephesian church. In fact, he uses the example of Eve deceiving Adam to show Timothy the consequences. So the contradiction doesn't exist if you understand the context of the situation Paul was addressing.

Stanley Anderson wrote:I think you might agree that many very studious and attentive people would interpret in quite different ways


Yes, but the differences are not usually from their studiousness and attentiveness, but rather from preconceptions and lack of proper study parameters.

Stanley Anderson wrote:the passage where Jesus calls Peter the rock upon which he would build his Church. I suspect you might come to a different conclusion about its meaning than I? Is the Bible interpreting itself there?


Yes it can. There's also a problem with presumption and study there. Your presumption is that Jesus is referring to Peter when He said "on this rock I will build my church." Studying the original language it is, at best, unclear as to whether Jesus was speaking about Peter or what Peter said about Jesus as the foundation for the Church. Since there seems to be some question, we use the Bible as its own interpreter and see that the New Testament consistantly shows Jesus as the Rock and the Foundation, never a man.

Stanley Anderson wrote:Does it interpret itself properly only when it happens to agree with the interpretation you agree with? (or equally of course with the one I happen to agree with?)


No, not at all! That's the opposite of what I'm saying. Using the Bible to interpret itself cuts through presuppositions that taint true Biblical study.

Stanley Anderson wrote:There has been much debate about whether a virgin shall conceive or only a young girl and what that means for Christian theology and belief. Does the Bible interpret itself there?


Yes! That's another excellent example. The Hebrew word in Isaiah 7:14 is 'almah, which does indead mean "young woman", but it can also mean virgin. However, if we use the Bible to interpret itself, we see that the writer of Matthew's gospel, when quoting Isaih's prophesy, uses the Greek word parthenos which is undoubtedly used to express sexual virginity. And there is no occasion where the word 'almah is used to refer to a young woman who is not a virgin.

Stanley Anderson wrote:Or what about "Take, eat; this is my body" and "this is my blood"? Are there different interpretations among Christian denominations of those passages? Which is the one the Bible interprets for itself?


In a way, yes. The situation itself demands the question of literal or figurative since Jesus' body and blood was right in front of the disciples and none of it was (as far as they could see) on the table. Therefore, a student of the Word would look to the rest of Scripture to look for further examples that would interpret Christ's words as to whether He meant them literally or figuratively.

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Postby Stanley Anderson » 04 Apr 2008, 19:22

Dan65802 wrote:...the differences are not usually from their studiousness and attentiveness, but rather from preconceptions and lack of proper study parameters.
...
Using the Bible to interpret itself cuts through presuppositions that taint true Biblical study.


And funny how all those examples of Biblical self-interpretation match up so nicely with your views, eh. Purely a coincidental side-effect, I'm sure. But maybe you could send me a handy list of your Biblical interpretations as a quick way of determining the Bible's various self-interpretations since they do happen to line up so neatly -- it would save a lot of effort and study on my part, I'm sure.

Ok, enough sarcasm from me. I'm sure you are probably wanting me to somehow refute the "clear" logic and analysis you have provided on the examples and demonstrate where pre-supposition and personal bias have stealthily slipped into your descriptions in place of pure Biblical self-interpretation.

I hardly know where to start (and frankly, I don't intend to do much anyway -- it is hardly the point), but just to take a couple stabs, first the women teaching issue:

So the contradiction doesn't exist if you understand the context of the situation Paul was addressing.


You primary argument seems to be that since Paul is telling us the faults of these women, that that explains why he specifically excludes them from teaching. Does the fact that he seems to condemn ten times over and more the men leading these poor women into captivity -- men resisting the truth, of corrupt minds and reprobate concerning the faith, having the form of godliness but denying the power thereof, blasphemers, false accusers, incontinent, unholy, on and on. These are the ones that should be the preferred teachers over the women there? Somehow, I think there must be a larger, overarching principle at play here. What do you think? Could the Bible's self-interpretation (as you see it of course) leave something to be desired in this case?

Or how about the body and blood thing:

The situation itself demands the question of literal or figurative since Jesus' body and blood was right in front of the disciples and none of it was (as far as they could see) on the table. Therefore, a student of the Word would look to the rest of Scripture to look for further examples that would interpret Christ's words as to whether He meant them literally or figuratively.


And what if that student of the Word looks to the rest of Scripture and comes across John chapter 6 and sees that Jesus says multiple times, over and over, right next to each other in seeming forgetfulness that he has just said the same thing seconds ago for the nth time, "unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood". And even when the Jews said, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?", Jesus doesn't say what we might expect, ie, something like "no, no, no, you misunderstand me -- I wasn't talking 'literally', I meant that figuratively". Instead he simply reiterates what he said before, even emphasizing it by adding "For my flesh is meat indeed, and my blood is drink indeed".

If I had to say what interpretation I thought Scripture was providing for itself in that case, I might be a bit hestitant if I was one of your students of the Word -- the Catholic view of the Real Presence would be looking pretty promising at that point and I might be afraid of getting a low grade for not seeing the obvious in how Scripture interprets itself.

But enough of my opinions about it. As R has said of himself enough times, I, like he, am of minor mental ability compared to the intellectual giants throughout history who have studied Scripture and delved into its details far more than I could ever hope to do. And in fact, some of those intellectual giants agree with you and some (quite a few more, actually, I think) agree with me. And where does that get us? Well, as far as I can see, right back to the beginning of R's arguments. Which isn’t very far.

I'll back off for now and let you and R continue -- I'll be curious to see where it (if it can) progresses.

--Stanley
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Postby Dan65802 » 04 Apr 2008, 19:42

Stanley Anderson wrote:And funny how all those examples of Biblical self-interpretation match up so nicely with your views, eh. Purely a coincidental side-effect


A coincidence that my conclusions match my study? Yes, that's mind-blowing.

Stanley Anderson wrote:I'm sure you are probably wanting me to somehow refute the "clear" logic and analysis you have provided


Not necessarily, but you're welcome to enter into a dialogue about it.

Stanley Anderson wrote:You primary argument seems to be that since Paul is telling us the faults of these women, that that explains why he specifically excludes them from teaching.


You got it.

Stanley Anderson wrote:Does the fact that he seems to condemn ten times over and more the men leading these poor women into captivity -- men resisting the truth, of corrupt minds and reprobate concerning the faith, having the form of godliness but denying the power thereof, blasphemers, false accusers, incontinent, unholy, on and on. These are the ones that should be the preferred teachers over the women there?


I should think not! Of course, the men (and women) you refer to were outside the church, so Paul hardly had to recommend that they not teach in church.

Stanley Anderson wrote:Somehow, I think there must be a larger, overarching principle at play here. What do you think?


Definitely. I think the principle is that teaching is an awesome responsibility and there is a level of knowledge and spiritual growth that should be necessary before someone becomes a teacher.


Stanley Anderson wrote:And what if that student of the Word looks to the rest of Scripture and comes across John chapter 6 and sees that Jesus says multiple times, over and over, right next to each other in seeming forgetfulness that he has just said the same thing seconds ago for the nth time, "unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood". And even when the Jews said, "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?"


Well to apply the John 6 section to what I was talking about, the student would have to assume Jesus was talking about the Last Supper there, despite it being 2 years or so before it took place. I don't see any indication that He is, although I see what you're saying, and it is an argument worth investigating. I appreciate your use of Scripture here to interpret Scripture.

Stanley Anderson wrote:But enough of my opinions about it. As R has said of himself enough times, I, like he, am of minor mental ability compared to the intellectual giants throughout history who have studied Scripture and delved into its details far more than I could ever hope to do.


Don't sell yourself short. But as I've said before, I don't think it takes a giant intellect to explore the Word. Just hard work and openness.

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Postby Stanley Anderson » 04 Apr 2008, 20:31

Dan65802 wrote:Don't sell yourself short. But as I've said before, I don't think it takes a giant intellect to explore the Word. Just hard work and openness.


To explore? Not at all -- just the ability to read and a desire to explore I suppose. To interpret, perhaps a bit more (of course I would say quite a bit more -- not the least of which is submission -- openness? -- to the Church's teaching and authority). But the required "hard work" you mention might be hardest in simply finding the humility and willingness to submit to that teaching and authority. I know that for me (however long or short I should sell myself) it took at least 24 years of liturgy (literally "work") to come to that submission. Hard work indeed, though it seems now like it should have been so much easier. Oh well, mustn't look back when one is at the plow...

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Postby Dan65802 » 04 Apr 2008, 20:35

I can only imagine that the surrendering to the authority of your church was indeed a long process of hard work. Although I don't believe this is a responsibility to be surrendered, I do believe you'll be rewarded for your intent and humility.

- Dan -
"Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that." - Martin Luther King
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Postby rusmeister » 05 Apr 2008, 03:56

Dan, for a person of your obvious intelligence, it is extremely odd that you cannot see that your study and your conclusions = your interpretations, not the Bible "interpreting" itself.

It is true that you can find explanations in other parts of a document that help explain a lack of clarity in one part. But when third parties find equally valid explanations of a completely different understanding, also using Scripture, then this method of 'interpretation' breaks down. It comes back to:
You: "This is the correct interpretation."
Other": "On whose authority do you say that?"
You: "On my intellect and study; that is, on my own."

If you try to use that approach to run a court of law it will break down into instant chaos. You will wind up having to say to other intelligent people who have also committed their lives prayerfully to study and yet disagree strongly with you that your explanation from Scripture is better than their explanation from Scripture because you say so. If you are in, say, a property dispute you are not going to win the case except in your own mind. You can point to the laws (Bible) all you want, but anywhere you have points of disagreement, then you cannot maintain unity with your neighbor. Both of you will claim that the law says each is right and get nowhere in the convincing of the rest of the (unbelieving) world that your understanding is the correct position that everyone should submit to.

Who decides who's teaching correctly?

BTW, Nobody has been talking about checking their brain at the door when they submit to the authority of the Church. (This is what you seem to think is the case.) It's a lot more about acknowledging what we don't know and even can't know. I have a simplistic, surface understanding what I read - my priest points me to what was written to explain it in, say, the 2nd and 4th centuries and agreed upon by the whole Church over time, and I find it to be a lot wiser and deeper than my surface impression - that it was my knowledge that was deficient all along.
"Eh? Two views? There are a dozen views about everything until you know the answer. Then there's never more than one."
Bill "The Blizzard" Hingest - That Hideous Strength
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Postby Stanley Anderson » 05 Apr 2008, 18:35

I want to correct a possibly wrong impression I might have given in my previous post -- it may have seemed that I was touting my own humility and submission (sort of like that old line about getting a medal for humility and then having it taken away because one wore it). My actual intention was to suggest just the opposite -- that it was lack of humility and submission that caused a 24 year delay in conversion.

And as R indicates, it almost seems futile to discuss some of these things. I hate to say, but your response to my comments about the women teaching example seem so tortured as to leave me baffled about how to proceed. The point is that if the women are too corrupt to teach, the men are only far moreso by the extensive descriptions given of them. Why does Paul then single out the women? Are you saying that Paul thinks there are still at least a few good men to teach there, but that all the women are too far gone to be able to teach? If so, that was partly why I referred to them as "those poor women" in my earlier post.

(And I might add that the fairly extensive analysis you provided -- right or wrong -- in all the different examples does not bode well for those "dummies" trying to understand the simplicity of salvation. Perhaps you only mean that the basic and essential parts of salvation are easy for dummies to understand, but the more subtle aspects and interpretations are better left (in submission?) to the more well-read and intellectual types? Perhaps we only then disagree about where that "dummy" line is drawn, and that I would tend to draw it closer to, nay, even attach it directly to the Church's teaching and authority and say that we are all, to some degree, "dummies" and in need of submission to that authority?)

In any case, the very strong impression I get is that you seem to think that your analysis is always free of pre-suppositions and tainted logic because of studiousness and attentiveness. But the tortured and wrenched logic I see in your analysis of the Ephesian women seems like a prime example of the opposite to me. And admittedly perhaps that is only my own pre-suppositions getting in the way. Again, funny how the pre-suppositions all seem to fall in the "other guy's" camp, eh? I wonder how hard it is to recognize pre-suppositions in the midst of one's own perceived studiousness and attentiveness?

Dan65802 wrote:I appreciate your use of Scripture here to interpret Scripture.


Of course it is good to look to the whole of Scripture when studying it, but you seem to be missing the point of my using Scripture to interpret Scripture. It was specifically to show that your approved method apparently can lead to radically different conclusions -- not the single "proper" interpretation you seem to think the method enforces. It almost seems like when you say "I appreciate your use of Scripture here to interpret Scripture", you are in effect saying "I appreciate being proved wrong about the idea of Scripture interpreting Scripture" (of course I think your real intention was to effectively say "see?, you are using my methods without even knowing it", but the logic doesn't pan out that way -- at least as it seems to me)

--Stanley
…on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a fair green country under a swift sunrise.
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Postby Guest » 05 Apr 2008, 21:36

rusmeister wrote:Dan, for a person of your obvious intelligence, it is extremely odd that you cannot see that your study and your conclusions = your interpretations, not the Bible "interpreting" itself.


Perhaps you didn't understand what I meant by the Bible interpreting itself. It means when there are difficult passages to understand, the best source for understanding is seeing whatelse the Bible has to say on the subject. I fully understand that my study which leads to my conclusions equals my, interpretation. The fact that it is "mine" doesn't make it right or wrong. Whether it conforms to what the Bible is saying is what makes it right or wrong. I think we have a different opinion on the clarity of the Bible. I believe it to be a fairly straight foward communication from God to man. I don't see it as having hidden meanings that are only able to be interpreted by church authorities. When studied with integrity, openmindedness and diligence it reveals the Truth even to the individual.

rusmeister wrote:It is true that you can find explanations in other parts of a document that help explain a lack of clarity in one part. But when third parties find equally valid explanations of a completely different understanding, also using Scripture, then this method of 'interpretation' breaks down.


My problem with that line of thinking is your assumption that all conclusions are equally valid. There is poor Scripture usage that is used to justify false teaching.

rusmeister wrote:You will wind up having to say to other intelligent people who have also committed their lives prayerfully to study and yet disagree strongly with you that your explanation from Scripture is better than their explanation from Scripture because you say so.


I must be really explaining this badly for you to not be getting this. It has nothing to do with "because I say so". It has to do with rightly dividing the Word of Truth. If I have a disagreement with someone on a Scripture interpretation, it is because one of us has not rightly divided the Word of Truth.

rusmeister wrote:BTW, Nobody has been talking about checking their brain at the door when they submit to the authority of the Church. (This is what you seem to think is the case.)


Not at all. I just think you are relegating the responsibility of the interpretation of Scripture to your church.

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Postby Guest » 05 Apr 2008, 21:53

Stanley Anderson wrote:The point is that if the women are too corrupt to teach, the men are only far moreso by the extensive descriptions given of them. Why does Paul then single out the women?


I don't think you're getting the context of what Paul is saying. The "corrupt" men Paul refers to are not in the church, so Paul doesn't really need to say they shouldn't be teachers, does he? The decieved women that Timothy was dealing with were in the church, so Paul singles out the women whom Timothy was having problems with.

Stanley Anderson wrote:And I might add that the fairly extensive analysis you provided -- right or wrong -- in all the different examples does not bode well for those "dummies" trying to understand the simplicity of salvation. Perhaps you only mean that the basic and essential parts of salvation are easy for dummies to understand,...


I'm not crazy about your use of the word "dummies", but I know what you're trying to say. Yes, the essentials of the gospel are easy enough for anyone to understand.

Stanley Anderson wrote:but the more subtle aspects and interpretations are better left (in submission?) to the more well-read and intellectual types?


No, absolutely not. I don't believe God gave us a Scripture that can only be interpreted by intellectuals, priests, theologians and holy men. Anyone can understand any Scripture if they'll take the time to study. Unfortunately, not enough people do make that effort.

Stanley Anderson wrote:In any case, the very strong impression I get is that you seem to think that your analysis is always free of pre-suppositions and tainted logic because of studiousness and attentiveness.


Yikes! I wish that was the case. It is a constant struggle to remain aware of my presuppositions so that I can work around them in Biblical study.

Stanley Anderson wrote:But the tortured and wrenched logic I see in your analysis


Can't please everyone I guess.

Stanley Anderson wrote:perhaps that is only my own pre-suppositions getting in the way.


Perhaps, but it also might be my lack of communication skills.

Stanley Anderson wrote:I wonder how hard it is to recognize pre-suppositions in the midst of one's own perceived studiousness and attentiveness?


It's very hard. But the first step is recognizing that they're there.

Stanley Anderson wrote:It almost seems like when you say "I appreciate your use of Scripture here to interpret Scripture", you are in effect saying "I appreciate being proved wrong about the idea of Scripture interpreting Scripture"


Sorry. I apparently didn't say that very clearly. I only meant that I appreciate you going to Scripture to explain what you believed about a passage rather than just saying, "Well, this is what my church says."

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