No Religious Or Ethical Leader In History Supported SSM

(I am changing some of my “Pages” to “Posts,” so some of this info is older to my site)

I was challenged after I noted that every religious and moral leader of note never endorsed or supported same-sex marriage. Here is the response to this challenge.

A point Dennis Prager makes is that this is the first time in human history where a “liberal elite” thinks it knows better than all previous religious, political, and moral thinkers before them. I have been challenged on this point and so I enter here a response to some of it. But first the audio portion in which discussion took place over:

Here is the small portion of one of the conversations that emboldened me to post this information:

Initial “Religious” Challenge:

Also, this is not just a matter of discrimination based on sex. It is also a matter of religious persecution. There are religious institutions where gay marriage is condoned and officiated just as heterosexual marriage is. To list a few, Buddhism, Satanism, Wicca, Paganism, the Metropolitan Community Church, the Old Catholic Church, the United Church of Canada, the United Church of Christ, the United Church of Australia and there are even more!!! Just as they would not dare to tell you what to do with your religion, so should you not dare to tell them what to do with theirs. If you believe in freedom of religion, you cannot be against gay marriage. You cannot control what others do with their religion. That is one of the founding principles of this nation. And that is what this really boils down to in the end. It is a matter of control. You seek to control others. You seek to tell others how they are supposed to live their lives. That is the antithesis of freedom. For someone as obviously intelligent as you are it is extremely disheartening that you cannot see something this simple.

After I refuted the world religious challenge of Buddhism (see beneath this conversational example that took place here), I got this response:

…I listed a lot of churches that condone gay marriage. One of them was mistaken and you spend how long arguing against it while ignoring every other one? I made a mistake on buddhism. What of the rest I listed and the many more that I didn’t?

To which I responded:

I wish to clarify something I said. In the historical past, same-sex marriage has never been accepted. While polygamy, concubines, and the like have been accepted in cultural practice. Homosexuality being on equal footing with other forms of marriage has never, never been a practice accepted by any religion or culture. Wiccan, Satanism, and liberal forms of the world religions (Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, and the like) have only recently endorsed such a view. Since the “sexual revolution” of the 60’s when radical Marxist ideals were injected into Western thinking, writ large. So even your list is a new phenomenon.

I did mention paganism in the past. What I was saying is that men in historic pagan thinking/actions controlled women so that they were prostitutes at the local temple and a place for men to stop and “give sacrifice” to the gods. Other aspects that paganism and other cultures practiced that were harmful to women that Christianity helped cure were (below — partial list) only made possible by a faith that lifted women up. Something modern day feminism and radical gender equality movements do not do, or cannot do… since Wiccan practices do laud – for instance – the older pagan prostitution practices that subjugated a whole swath of women to serve men in horrible ways:

Paul, who often gets a bad rap for his perceived low view of women, considered at least twelve women coworkers in his ministry.* Paul clearly had a high view of women: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” The earliest Christians recited these remarkable, countercultural words as a baptismal confession. Widows, far from being abandoned, were cared for, and older women were given a place of honor. In light of all of this, is it any wonder “the ancient sources and modern historians agree that primary conversion to Christianity was far more prevalent among females than males”?

In recent history, Christians were responsible for the banning of three despicable practices inflicted upon women around the world. Christian missionaries pressured the Chinese government to abolish foot binding in 1912. This practice was done for the sole reason of pleasing men—”it made a woman with her feet bound in an arch walk tiptoe and sway seductively.” In 1829 the English outlawed the Indian practice of suttee, in which widows were burned alive on the funeral pyres of their husbands, because of Christianity’s teaching regarding widows and women. Finally, Western countries influenced by a Christian view of women and sexuality have condemned clitoridectomy (female genital mutilation), a gruesome practice that is still common in Muslim countries in Africa and the Middle East.

Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow, Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel Publications, 2010), 230-231.

Historian Alvin Schmidt points out how the spread of Christianity and Christian influence on government was primarily responsible for outlawing infanticide, child abandonment, and abortion in the Roman Empire (in AD 374); outlawing the brutal battles-to-the-death in which thousands of gladiators had died (in 404); outlawing the cruel punishment of branding the faces of criminals (in 315); instituting prison reforms such as the segregating of male and female prisoners (by 361); stopping the practice of human sacrifice among the Irish, the Prussians, and the Lithuanians as well as among other nations; outlawing pedophilia; granting of property rights and other protections to women; banning polygamy (which is still practiced in some Muslim nations today); prohibiting the burning alive of widows in India (in 1829); outlawing the painful and crippling practice of binding young women’s feet in China (in 1912); persuading government officials to begin a system of public schools in Germany (in the sixteenth century); and advancing the idea of compulsory education of all children in a number of European countries.

Wayne Grudem, Politics According to the Bible [Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2010], 49-50.

My goal is not to refute every example [you give]. Yes, extreme leftism in Christianity is nothing new. In fact, the term “fundementalist” was coined in the 1920’s. In fact, a free book about this movement by one of its founders is here, “Christianity & Liberalism

And of course Paganism is [against treating people with humanity]. At least historical paganism, [modern paganism in the West adopts the Judeo-Christian ethic]. Of course I deal with this in my book as well.

With that example of a conversation, I wish to officially give my readers an insight in how to refute such thinking (that major world religions supported same-sex relationships). A proper understanding of Buddhism regards all marriages as mundane. In fact, even love in Buddhistic understanding is mundane and is rejected as anything based in reality — which is also key to this discussion. Here are some actual historical cases that the Buddha interacted with as well as more recently the Dalai Lama dealing with the issue.

….there was a case of a gay monk who was overcome by sexual desire and could no longer restrain himself. He was seducing his friends and novices to have sex with him. They rejected him so he left the monastery and had sex with men who were elephant keepers and horse keepers. When news spread around the entire Buddhist community that he was homosexual, the Buddha was alerted to the problem and he issued a rule for the community not to give any ordination to a homosexual, and those ordained gays are to be expelled. (Vin.I, 86).

The Buddha was more tolerant of lesbianism than male homosexuality. Nuns who were caught in lesbian practices were not expelled from the order. They must confess to the fellows about their practice, and then the offense will be redeemed. (Vin. IV, 261)

The monastic rules do not guarantee Buddhist monasticism is entirely free from homosexuals. Indeed, they only say that monks and nuns are required to live a celibate life. Often in history, the monastic community has been plagued by homosexual scandals.

In Thailand, the worst such scandal took place in 1819, during the reign of King Rama II, when a high-ranking monk, a Somdet who was also the abbot of Wat Saket who had just been promoted to take the position of the Supreme Patriarch, one day was found guilty of enjoying homosexual activities with some of his good-looking male disciples.

It was a shock to all Buddhists of the time, and the case was considered the scandal of the century of Buddhism in Siam.

Interestingly, the graveness of the mistake was not severe enough to defrock him, although the King had him removed him from his position of honour and ordered him to leave the royal monasteries.

As for the lay homosexual people, the Buddha gave no rule or advice as to whether they should be allowed to marry or not. The Buddha posted himself simply as the one who shows the way. He did not insist that he had any right to enforce on others what they should do. With this principle, the original teachings of the Buddha do not cover social ceremonies or rituals. Weddings and marriages of all kinds are regarded as mundane and have no place in Buddhism.

(The Buddhist Channel)

Another authoritative source mentions that “in practice, Theravada Buddhist countries are not terribly open to homosexual practice. This has much to do with … the notion of karma, which remains strong in countries such as Thailand. From this viewpoint, a person’s characteristics and situations are a result of past sins or good deeds. Homosexuality and other alternative forms of sexuality are often seen as karmic punishments for heterosexual misconduct in a past life. Thus far, the gay rights movement has not had great success in Theravada Buddhist countries.” So one would have to reject the core of this religion in order to supplant it with a personal view and new model of sexuality. Obviously, ripping the core of an ancient religious belief out in the name of tolerance is what the Left is all about! The article continues:

In a 1997 interview, the Dalai Lama (the leader of Tibetan Buddhism and a widely-respected spiritual figure) was asked about homosexuality. He did not offer any strong answer either way, but noted that all monks are expected to refrain from sex. For laypeople, he commented that the purpose of sex in general is for procreation, so homosexual acts do seem a bit unnatural. He said that sexual desires in themselves are natural, perhaps including homosexual desires, but that one should not try to increase those desires or indulge them without self-control.

In a 1993 talk given in Seattle, the Dalai Lama said:

  • nature arranged male and female organs in such a manner that is very suitable… Same-sex organs cannot manage well. …

The Dalai Lama was more specific in a meeting with Buddhist leaders and human rights activists in San Francisco in 1997, where he commented that all forms of sex other than penile-vaginal sex are prohibited for Buddhists, whether between heterosexuals or homosexuals. At a press conference the day before the meeting, he said, “From a Buddhist point of view, [gay sex] is generally considered sexual misconduct.

(Religion Facts)

So we see in Buddhistic history and theology a firm denial of homosexuality being approved of (or endorsed, like the Left wants done with same-sex marriage). Even at its best there is no universal Buddhist position on same-sex marriage. In other words, it was never endorsed (if forgetting the above) by the Buddhistic religion or state — like the Left wants in this case.

In all religious understanding, if the practice wasn’t frowned upon, it was never endorsed. Bottom line. Nor was it even thinkable until about a generation ago.

This is an excerpt from a larger response to a local author, to which the fuller response and more context, see here.

Very bluntly and plainly, Socrates was not “gay,” per se. He was a pedophile, most pedophiles in Grecian days slept with young boys, a homosexual act. Pedophilia became common practice for the well-ta-do, and it took the Judeo-Christian worldview to shake this “habit” from the world in outlawing such actions. “Many men in Ancient Greece had relations with young teens,” however, “being outright gay and having an equal relationship with a same-sex partner was not something that was socially approved of at all.” Plato speaks to the “mean state” that creates the best “by far the safest and most moderate” a society should promote to enhance its quality of life. One should take note that even Plato’s detractor in the end agrees:

Now, what lives are they, and how many in which, having searched out and beheld the objects of will and desire and their opposites, and making of them a law, choosing, I say, the dear and the pleasant and the best and noblest, a man may live in the happiest way possible

[….]

Speaking generally, our glory is to follow the better and improve the inferior, which is susceptible of improvement, as far as this is possible. And of all human possessions, the soul is by nature most inclined to avoid the evil, and track out and find the chief good; which when a man has found, he should take up his abode with it during the remainder of his life…. every one will perceive, comes the honour of the body in natural order. Having determined this, we have next to consider that there is a natural honour of the body, and that of honours some are true and some are counterfeit…. but the mean states of all these habits are by far the safest and most moderate;

[….]

…but they will not wholly extirpate [root out]the unnatural loves which have been the destruction of states; and against this evil what remedy can be devised?…

[….]

Either men may learn to abstain wholly from any loves, natural or unnatural, except of their wedded wives; or, at least, they may give up unnatural loves; or, if detected, they shall be punished with loss of citizenship, as aliens from the state in their morals. ‘I entirely agree with you,’ said Megillus,…

This is excerpted from The Dialogues of Plato, in 5 vols (Jowett ed.) [387 BC]

Another piece to the puzzle comes from an excellent apologetic about this very subject. In it we find this:

Aeschines (390-314? BC), in his work Against Timarchus, acknowledged that there were laws on the books that prohibited sexual harassment or assault of young boys.5

1. He further records that Greek law prohibited male prostitutes from holding office in civic affairs, or participating in religious observances.

2. He recognized that laws that regulate moral conduct are the best means of establishing and maintaining an orderly society.

3. This work indicates that there were laws prohibiting these things, and that the punishment was fine or death, depending on the severity of the offense.

So, even in Greece, you had a behavior that was rejected as unnatural, and never accepted in a moral category as “the norm.” So nothing John cites or references would support Prop 8 or the peoples will in California to keep marriage what it has been, a relation between a man and woman (specifically, one man and one woman).

Biblical Memes

(Updated! This post is now married — ha — to this post of dietary laws in Leviticus. Also, posted some excerpts from a book at bottom.) After posting the above graphic, Jonathan Lewis [I believe Jonathan closed his FB down since last checked] said this in response to a friends post.

Here is his initial post.

The point of this, for me, is that marriage has been something that changes. I hate when people use the bibles example to deny my friends the right to get married when marriage today is nothing like marriage was in the bible. On top of all this, almost all marriages where arranged. Just as it used to be illegal for a black man to marry a white women. That had to change and it did. And people used the bible to try to stop it from changing. It’s just here to show that marriage has changed. And needs to change again to allow the LGBT community rights.

There are a few things wrong with how Jonathan has come at this issue. The first is how one should approach any historical document, this is called Hermeneutics. This way of approaching any document of antiquity pre-dates Christ [by about 500-years] and can be summed up in the “eight rules.”

Rule of Definition.
Define the term or words being considered and then adhere to the defined meanings.

Rule of Usage.
Don’t add meaning to established words and terms. What was the common usage in the cultural and time period when the passage was written?

Rule of Context.
Avoid using words out of context. Context must define terms and how words are used.

Rule of Historical background.
Don’t separate interpretation and historical investigation.

Rule of Logic.
Be certain that words as interpreted agree with the overall premise.

Rule of Precedent.
Use the known and commonly accepted meanings of words, not obscure meanings for which their is no precedent.

Rule of Unity.
Even though many documents may be used there must be a general unity among them.

Rule of Inference.
Base conclusions on what is already known and proven or can be reasonably implied from all known facts.

Another important term that is often missed in a post like Jonathan’s to engender emotional responses and not critical thinking, is Etymology:

  • “the study of the origins of words or parts of words and how they have arrived at their current form and meaning” (Encarta Dictionary).

So, what does a historical thinker say about the above?

They [the critics] start with some improbable presumption; and having so decreed it themselves, proceed to draw inferences, and censure the poet as though he had actually said whatever they happen to believe, if his statement conflicts with their notion of things…. Whenever a word seems to imply some contradiction, it is necessary to reflect how many ways there may be of understanding it in the passage in question…. So it is probably the mistake of the critics that has given rise to the Problem…. See whether he [the author] means the same thing, in the same relation, and in the same sense, before admitting that he has contradicted something he has said himself or what a man of sound sense assumes as true…. The objections, then, of critics start with faults of five kinds: the alle­gation is always that something is either (1) impossible, (2) improbable, (3) corrupting, (4) contradictory, or (5) against technical correctness. The answers to these objections must be sought under one or other of the above–mentioned heads, which are twelve in number.

(Source)

So taking the above from Aristotle and applying this thinking to one area, say, language, will afford us a great deal of help:

LANGUAGE GAP

…Consider how confused a foreigner must be when he reads in a daily newspaper: “The prospectors made a strike yesterday up in the mountains.” “The union went on strike this morning.” “The batter made his third strike and was called out by the umpire.” “Strike up with the Star Spangled Ban­ner.” “The fisherman got a good strike in the middle of the lake.” Presum­ably each of these completely different uses of the same word go back to the parent and have the same etymology. But complete confusion may re­sult from misunderstanding how the speaker meant the word to be used…. We must engage in careful exegesis in order to find out what he meant in light of contemporary conditions and usage.

(Source)

So these are just some quick, higher educational deep-thinking skills/points, to apply to the graph. There is a history gap not mentioned in the graph or following conversations about the graph. For instance, King David in the Old Testament had many wives. Why would someone take this event (fact) and rip it from its historical context and apply modern day thinking to it? If this is done then there is another purpose behind doing so, an agenda. Sure, the Bible states that God “gave David Saul’s wives” (2 Samuel 12:8),but that is just a figure of speech. In ancient times, it was commonplace for a new king to take possession of everything owned by the former king, including his wives. So let’s take the “cultural gap” here and open it up a bit:

Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary

8. I gave thee thy master’s house, and thy master’s wives-The phraseology means nothing more than that God in His providence had given David, as king of Israel, everything that was Saul’s. The history furnishes conclusive evidence that he never actually married any of the wives of Saul. But the harem of the preceding king belongs, according to Oriental notions, as a part of the regalia to his successor.

Knowing now that culturally speaking (using the understanding of idioms and ideas as known in a particular time-period) that it was commonplace for a new king to take possession of everything owned by the former king, including his wives, is not the same as God saying go out and take many wives to fulfill the lust of man. In-other-words, just because a great man in the Bible had more than one wife does not mean we should. The Bible faithfully records — as a true history book would — both the advances and the failures of people. Not only that (e.g., ripping something from its historical, cultural, geographic, etymological, and theological understanding), but context is important as well, context in a book recording evil deeds done along side righteous ones, and how to regulate man’s inhibitions.

The only direct command against polygamy is given to the kings that were to rule Israel, as they are told not to “multiply wives” to themselves (Deuteronomy 17:17). It is also interesting to note that polygamous relationships seem to be regulated in the commands Moses gave to the nation of Israel. Leviticus 18:18 instructs that a man should not marry sisters, and Deuteronomy 21:15 talks of assigning an heir to a man with two wives. Many commentators suggest that the passages do not endorse polygamy but rather prohibit it. Deuteronomy 21:15 may also be translated as “has had two wives” in succession rather than at the same time. The sisters in Leviticus 18:18 are understood by some to be any Israelite women. Regardless of the interpretation of these passages, the taking of multiple wives is not in accord with God’s design from the beginning.

(Source)

An analogous understanding is that the Bible gives commands on how to treat slaves, even having an entire New Testament book written with regards to this understanding. Does this mean the Bible supports slavery? Of course not, however, slavery was an institution around almost as long as man, so the Bible treats the reality of this institution in a way that will create the most fair actions of “owners” of slaves towards the humanity of current affairs. The Bible was the first historical document to say such a radical thing as “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). And this radical change in direction led to women and slavery being defeated (see my chapter in my book on Feminism, and, Listen to Thomas Sowell’s chapter from his book on slavery).

Now, in Christian thinking, Christ is understood to be God, bringing something new to man. He taught on many aspects of this “something new,” and even dealt with this topic – marriage.

In Matthew 19:4 (and Mark 10:2) we find the Pharisees challenging Him by asking if it is lawful for a man to put away his wife:

(vv. 3-8) Some Pharisees came to him. In order to test him, they said, “Does the Law allow a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” Jesus answered, “Haven’t you read that at the beginning the creator made them male and female? And God said, ‘Because of this a man should leave his father and mother and be joined together with his wife, and the two will be one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore, humans must not pull apart what God has put together.” The Pharisees said to him, “Then why did Moses command us to give a divorce certificate and divorce her?” Jesus replied, “Moses allowed you to divorce your wives because your hearts are unyielding. But it wasn’t that way from the beginning. I say to you that whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual unfaithfulness, and marries another woman commits adultery.”

Christ took it back to Adam and Eve one man one woman as did Paul in 1st Corinthians 7:1-2 ~

(vv 1-2) Now, about what you wrote: “It’s good for a man not to have sex with a woman.” Each man should have his own wife, and each woman should have her own husband because of sexual immorality.

Oneness is clear here as is it here Malachi 2:14 ~

But you say, “Why?” Because the LORD testifies about you and the wife of your youth against whom you cheated. She is your partner, the wife of your covenant.

Notice how the practice of many wives just does not fit into the passage? Context. We know that God intended for one man, one woman and that this relationship was to be for the duration (Matthew 19:4) the only allowable cause for divorce is fornication God then sought to regulate the polygamous practice (Exodus 21:10). So, again I reference my thinking on the matter of regulating versus abolishing institutions:

In Scripture, God sometimes allowed what was less than ideal because people’s hard hearts made the ideal unattainable (e.g., Ex 13:17; 1 Sam 12:12-13). To be able to exercise some degree of restraint over human injustice, Moses’ civil laws regulated some institutions rather than seeking to abolish them altogether: divorce, polygyny, the avengers of blood, and slavery (Keener 1992: 192-96). Jewish lawyers in fact recognized that God had allowed some behavior (marrying a Gentile captive in Deut 21:11-13; according to some, slavery) as a concession to human weakness (Daube 1959); some of their own rulings, such as the prosbul, conceded human weakness in hopes of improving the situation of justice (Daube 1959: 10). Nevertheless, Jesus’ opponents here assume that whatever the law addressed it permitted (19:7; cf. ARN 24, §49B); Jesus responds that Moses permitted this merely as a concession to Israel’s hard hearts.14 That his questioners exploit this concession thereby implies their own hardness of hearts, a charge ancients would easily enough apply to those deficient in love toward family members (Epict. Disc. 3.3.5). Thus in Matthew (in contrast to Mark), the Pharisees even exploit Moses’ concession as a command (Gundry 1982: 380). Jesus, by contrast, uses Scripture differently (cf. 12:7), here probably seeking to protect an innocent Jewish wife from her husband wrongfully divorcing her….

Craig S. Keener, The Gospel of Matthew: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary (Grand Rpids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing, 2009), 465.

I wish also to posit another idea completely missed by this chart, or the conversation that insued, and that is “is it wrong?” For instance, Christopher Wolfe makes the point that “arguments about whether homosexuality is biological or inherited are secondary to arguments about whether or not it is moral.” He continues,

Dallas declares that “even if it can be proven that genetic or biological influences predispose people toward homosexuality, that will never prove that homosexuality is in and of itself normal.” I have argued elsewhere that “it is an epistemological error to base value decisions on empirical data alone. For example, parents may reject dishonesty or homosexual behavior on moral grounds, regardless of what percentage of the population happily engages in those behaviors.”

Christopher Wolfe, ed., Homosexuality and American Public Life (Dallas, TX: Spence Publishing, 1999), 83-84.

Not only this, but the chart points out another fact, that is, no where in the Bible or in all religious history and cultural history, that homosexuality was never normalized. Therefore, the radical change is coming from those who support this idea. that is, that homosexuality should be normalized via marriage “rights.” In fact, this is one of the main strains of thought in comparing political worldviews. In the book A Conflict of Visions, Thomas Sowell makes this point in comparing the two models for coming to decisions:

While the constrained vision sees human nature as essentially unchanged across the ages and around the world, the particular cultural expressions of human needs peculiar to specific societies are not seen as being readily and beneficially changeable by forcible intervention. By contrast, those with the unconstrained vision tend to view human nature as beneficially changeable and social customs as expendable holdovers from the past. Ideals are weighed against the cost of achieving them, in the unconstrained vision. But in the unconstrained vision, every closer approximation to the ideal should be preferred….

Continuing Dr. Sowell quotes Hayek and then makes his point:

The growth of knowledge and the growth of civilization are the same only if we interpret knowledge to include all the human adaptations to environment in which past experience has been incorporated. Not all knowledge in this sense is part of our intellect, nor is our intellect the whole of our knowledge. Our habits and skills, our emotional attitudes, our tools, and our institutions— all are in this sense adaptations to past experience which have grown up by selective elimination of less suitable conduct. They are as much an indispensable foundation of successful action as is our conscious knowledge.

In this vision, it is not simply that individuals rationally choose what works from what does not work, but also— and more fundamentally— that the competition of institutions and whole societies leads to a general survival of more effective collections of cultural traits, even if neither the winners nor the losers rationally understand what was better or worse about one set or

the other. Values which may be effective at the tribal level will tend to be overwhelmed by values that permit or promote the functioning of larger aggregations of people. From this perspective, “man has certainly more often learnt to do the right thing without comprehending why it was the right thing, and he still is better served by ‘ custom than understanding.” There is thus “more ‘intelligence’ incorporated in the system of rules of conduct than in man’s thoughts about his surroundings.”

Thomas Sowell, A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles (New York, NY: basic Books, 2007), 28, 37-38.

Which explains the almost elitist “I know better than all of human history” mentality:

The following are excerpts are from the following book, click to enlarge:

[….]

A Short Study Defining “Inerrancy” (Updated)

In the appendix to Misquoting Jesus, added to the paperback version, there is a Q&A section. I do not know who the questioner is, but it is obviously someone affiliated with the editors of the book. Consider this question asked of Ehrman:

✦ Bruce Metzger, your mentor in textual criticism to whom this book dedicated, has said that there is nothing in these variants of Scripture that challenges any essential Christian beliefs (e.g., the bodily resurrection of Jesus or the Trinity). Why do you believe these core tenets Of Christian orthodoxy to be in jeopardy based on the scribal errors you discovered in the biblical manuscripts?

Note that the wording of the question is not “Do you believe…” but “Why do you believe these core tenets of Christian orthodoxy to be in jeopardy…?” This is a question that presumably came from someone who read the book very carefully. How does Ehrman respond?

✦ The position I argue for in Misquoting Jesus does not actually stand at odds with Prof. Metzger’s position that the essential Christian beliefs are not affected by textual variants in the manuscript tradition of the New Testament.

Suffice it to say that viable textual variants that disturb cardinal doctrines found in the NT have not yet been produced.

Daniel B. Wallace, Revisiting the Corruption of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Kregal Publications, 2011), 54-55.

So with all that in mind (one should familiarize themselves with the first part of this), can we then define what we mean by biblical inerrancy, of course my favorite definition comes from the main text I used at the seminary I attended.  I will also give definitions from some other main text that other seminaries use as well.

“…inerrancy means that Scripture in the original manuscripts[1] does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact.”[2]

In case you didn’t catch what that sentence meant is “that the Bible always tells the truth, and that it always tells the truth concerning everything it talks about.”[3]

In the index in the back under “inerrancy” you find some of the following topics under that heading: allows for free quotation; allows for ordinary language; allows for round numbers; allows for textual variants; allows for uncommon grammar; allows for vague statements; human language doesn’t prevent.  I will choose one example from this list so you can get the “gist” of what Grudem is saying:

A similar consideration applies to numbers when used in measuring or in counting. A reporter can say that 8,000 men were killed in a certain battle without thereby implying that he has counted everyone and that there are not 7,999 or 8,001 dead soldiers. If roughly 8,000 died, it would of course be false to say that 16,000 died, but it would not be false in most contexts for a reporter to say that 8,000 men died when in fact 7,823 or 8,242 had died: the limits of truthfulness would depend on the degree of precision implied by the speaker and expected by his original hearers.

This is also true for measurements. Whether I say, “I don’t live far from my office,” or “I live a little over a mile from my office,” or “I live one mile from my office,” or “I live 1.287 miles from my office” all four statements are still approximations to some degree of accuracy. Further degrees of accuracy might be obtained with more precise scientific instruments, but these would still be approximations to a certain degree of accuracy. Thus, measurements also, in order to be true, should conform to the degree of precision implied by the speaker and expected by the hearers in the original context. It should not trouble us, then, to affirm both that the Bible is absolutely truthful in everything it says and that it uses ordinary language to describe natural phenomena or to give approximations or round numbers when those are appropriate in the context.

We should also note that language can make vague or imprecise statements without being untrue. “I live a little over a mile from my office” is a vague and imprecise statement, but it is also inerrant: there is nothing untrue about it. It does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact. In a similar way, biblical statements can be imprecise and still be totally true.  Inerrancy has to do with truthfulness, not with the degree of precision with which events are reported.[4]

Another definition comes from a newer systematic theological 4-volumn set, it reads as follows:

…the inspiration of Scripture is the supernatural operation of the Holy Spirit who, through the dif­ferent personalities and literary styles of the chosen human authors, invested the very words of the original books of Holy Scripture, alone and in their entirety, as the very Word of God without error in all that they teach (including history and science) and is thereby the infallible rule and final authority for the faith and practice of all believers.[5]

Another popular text in seminaries defines inerrancy in this way:

By “inerrancy” we mean that as a product of supernatural inspiration the information affirmed by the sentences of the original autographs of the sixty-six canonical books of the Bible is true.

By “true” content we mean propositions that correspond to the thought of God and created reality because they are logically noncontradictory, factually reliable, and experientially viable. Therefore, as given, the Bible provides a reliable guide for healthfully experiencing the physical, mental, moral, and spiritual realities that people face in time and eternity.

To grasp the truth that was given, as fully as possible, a passage of Scripture must be taken (interpreted) by a believer in accord with its author’s purpose; degrees of precision appropriate to that purpose at that time; and its grammatical, historical, cultural, and theological contexts (all under the illumination of the Holy Spirit who inspired it).[6]

One of my favorites comes from large theological treatise, I will here only put his definition, however, the author goes on for about four pages defining some of the ideas and words used in that smaller definition:

We may now state our understanding of inerrancy: The Bible, when correctly interpreted in light of the level to which culture and the means of communication had developed at the time it was written, and in view of the purposes for which it was given, is fully truthful in all that it af­firms.[7]

One must also keep in mind the psychological foreboding that all of us have.  The question is thus: in order to suppress our biases as much as possible, is there a construct and model in which one should view any literary work with in order to test it internal soundness?  Besides what I will again post as some rules all persons should follow in order to limit his or her preconceived values and biases they bring to the table, C. Sanders, a famous military historian, in his Introduction to Research in English Literary History, lists and explains the three basic principles of historiography.  These are the bibliographical test, the internal evidence test, and the external evidence test.

Bibliographical Test

The bibliographical test is an examination of the textual transmission by which documents reach us.  In other words, since we do not have the original documents, how reliable are the copies we have in regard to the number of manuscripts (MSS and the time interval between the original and the extant (currently existing) copies?

Internal Evidence

Internal Evidence, of which John Warwick Montgomery writes that literary critics still follow Aristotle’s dictum that “the benefit of the doubt is to be given to the document itself, not arrogated by the critic to himself.”  therefore, one must listen to the claims of the document  under analysis, and do not assume fraud or error unless the author disqualified himself by contradictions or known factual inaccuracies.  As Dr. Horn continues:

“Think for a moment about what needs to be demonstrated concerning a ‘difficulty’ in order to transfer it into the category of a valid argument against doctrine.  Certainly much more is required than the mere appearance of a contradiction.  First, we must be certain that we have correctly understood the passage, the sense in which it uses words or numbers.  Second, that we possess all available knowledge in this matter.  Third, that no further light can possibly be thrown on it by advancing knowledge, textual research, archaeology, etc….  Difficulties do not constitute objections.  Unresolved problems are not of necessity errors.  This is not to minimize the area of difficulty; it is to see it in perspective.  Difficulties are to be grappled with and problems are to drive us to seek clearer light; but until such time as we have total and final light on any issue we are in no position to affirm, ‘Here is a proven error, an unquestionable objection to an infallible Bible.’  It is common knowledge that countless ‘objections’ have fully been resolved since this century began.” (see more)

External Evidence

Do other historical materials confirm or deny the internal testimony provided by the documents themselves?  In other words, what sources are there – apart from the literature under analysis – that substantiate its accuracy, reliability, and authenticity?[8]

Of course there will be people who refuse to use the tools that literary critics and legal scholars have devised to keep as much prejudice out as possible.  My final story I wish to share with the reader explains what this looks like better than I ever could:

Psychological Prejudice

But even a sound epistemic system, flawless deductive reasoning, and impeccable inductive procedure does not guarantee a proper conclusion. Emotional bias or antipathy might block the way to the necessary conclusion of the research. That thinkers may obstinately resist a logical verdict is humorously illustrated by John Warwick Montgomery’s modern parable:

Once upon a time (note the mystical cast) there was a man who thought he was dead. His concerned wife and friends sent him to the friendly neighborhood psychiatrist determined to cure him by convincing him of one fact that contradicted his beliefs that he was dead. The fact that the psychiatrist decided to use was the simple truth that dead men do not bleed. He put his patient to work reading medical texts, observing autopsies, etc. After weeks of effort the patient finally said, “All right, all right! You’ve convinced me. Dead men do not bleed.” Whereupon the psychiatrist stuck him in the arm with a needle, and the blood flowed. The man looked down with a contorted, ashen face and cried, “Good Lord! Dead men bleed after all!”

Emotional prejudice is not limited to dull-witted, the illiterate, and poorly educated. Philosophers and theologians are not exempt from the vested interests and psychological prejudice that distort logical thinking. The question of the existence of God evokes deep emotional and psychological prejudice. People understand that the question of the existence of God is not one that is of neutral consequence. We understand intuitively, if not in terms of its full rational implication, that the existence of an eternal Creator before whom we are ultimately accountable and responsible is a matter that touches the very core of life.[9]

And I would be remiss to note how the Christian world looks at what “the inspired Word of God” means to the individuals involved in the writing of Scripture. Do these lose their person-hood? Do they become automatons? Losing all ability to self, or control like automatic writing in paganism or the occult? These are important questions:

Orr says that inspiration “must be held to include the insight given by the divine Spirit into the meaning of the history, through which holy men are enabled to write it for the instruction of all ages.” But that is never taught in the Scriptures.

Dr. Edward Young, one of the most careful and devoted scholars on the matter of the inspiration of the Scriptures, makes a slip here, we believe. He strongly teaches the verbal inspiration of the Scripture but says:

According to the Bible, inspiration is a superintendence of God the Holy Spirit over the writers of the Scriptures, as a result of which these Scriptures possess Divine authority and trustworthiness and, possessing such Divine authority and trustworthiness, are free from error.”

He is right that the Scripture has divine authority and is free from error. I do not think, however, that the term “superintendence” is the proper word for the work of the Holy Spirit. The Bible never indicates that the Holy Spirit breathed on men or superintended men as they wrote. Rather, David said, “The Spirit of the Lord spake by me” (II Sam. 23:2). And “God spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets” (Heb. 1:1). And the men of God who wrote were rather “holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (II Pet. 1:21), or literally, “as they were borne along by the Holy Ghost.” Superintendence is too weak a word and leaves the initiative with men, with the Holy Spirit somewhere near and more or less supervising, checking. But according to the Scriptures, the initiative was with God the Holy Spirit and men are His instruments in writing the Scriptures.

Drs. Lindsell and Woodbridge say about the Bible writers:

They retained their own styles, personalities and self-command. Their personal powers were not suspended but sharpened. The Holy Spirit commanded the operation; but Moses, John and Peter remained Moses, John and Peter while writing. Because of the close, sustained, continuous, effective supervision of the Holy Spirit, the Bible is the inspired Word of God.

Now, the end the good doctors declare is correct. The Bible is the inspired Word of God. It is true that the writers were not automata. In some sense they did retain their own style and personalities and self-command. But the Bible never says that “their personal powers were… sharpened.” Whether or not their powers were sharpened we do not know. The unintended indication is that here, if men have enough illumination, enough supervision by the Holy Spirit, they could write the perfect Word of God. But that is not what the Bible teaches and surely not what Lindsell and Woodbridge intended to convey.

But Lindsell and Woodbridge correct themselves on the pre­ceding page:

“Inspiration” is not mere “Illumination.” The Holy Spirit illumines one’s soul before he can understand spiritual truth (See I Cor. 2:10-12.) But when we speak of the inspiration of the Bible, we do not have in mind this sort of spiritual percep­tion. We do not mean merely that the intuitive faculties of the writers were quickened, or their spiritual insights clarified. Their “inspiration” was different, not only in degree but also in kind, from the heightened powers of ordinary men, even of men known for their spiritual genius. The inspiration of the Biblical authors was unique: it was special, direct, reliable, life-giving, inerrant.

That is better. The Bible does not come from “the heightened powers of ordinary men, even of men known for their spiritual genius.” If “the intuitive faculties of the writers were quickened,” the Bible says nothing about it, and it is obviously not necessary to the kind of inspiration the Bible teaches. There is no evidence that the “intuitive faculties” of Balaam were quickened when by inspiration he gave a prophecy he did not want to give nor that the “intuitive faculties” of Caiaphas the high priest were quickened when he prophesied that Christ would die for the people, meaning something else. When God breathed out the words of the Bible, and the Bible discusses it, it never speaks of men’s “intuitive faculties” being quickened nor of their “height­ened powers” nor that “their personal powers were… shar­ened.” I am sure that, without intending to do so and trying to someway explain the human color and imprint in the Scrip­tures, good men say about this more than the Bible itself says here.

Let us say it again: the Scriptures did not come from height­ened powers or quickened senses nor by simple illumination of the Holy Spirit. God Himself gave the Scriptures and inspi­ration was far more than some superintendence or supervision of spiritually illumined men with heightened faculties.[10]

A really good article chronicling various theories on this is here: Who Wrote the Bible: God or Man? Another great post on the matter that does a bang-up job on bullet pointing the issues of textual transmission is this post: History of the Bible: How The Bible Came To Us.

All this defining and understanding above is key for any person to start dissecting Scripture (or as some would view it, scripture) on a level playing field with others who come to this conversation as well.

Here is an often heard MANTRA that Credo House deals with nicely: “You Can’t Use the Bible to Prove the Bible

….This statement is not only wrong, but completely misunderstands its own argument; ironically, it makes the exact circular assumptions that it accuses believers of.

1. The “Bible” is not one book

When we are talking about “proving” or evidencing the truths of the Gospel message, we have to put our historian hats on (not our religious hats). The argument is meant to place Christians in this rather odd situation where they sound like they are saying the Bible is true because it says it is true. But the Bible is not one book. In fact, the term “Bible” is not in the Bible. The Bible is a collection of works that spans over a thousand years, written by dozens of authors, some who are connected, some who are not. All together there are sixty-six books in the Protestant Bible.

When we are talking about the claims of the “New Testament,” we are talking about the story of Christianity, the very foundation and apex of Christianity as it deals with the incarnation of Christ, who he was, and what he did. But even then, to say one can’t prove the New Testament with the New Testament is quite ill-informed and unreflective. The designation “New Testament” (along with its list of books) is not even in the New Testament. Like with the whole Bible, it is just a name given to a certain related corpus of writings that speaks about the story and implications of the advent of Jesus Christ. There are twenty-seven books in the New Testament.

If one were to look at this with a historian’s eye, to say we cannot use the Bible to prove or evidence the Bible is about the most misguided thing one could possibly say. What does that mean? Are you saying that we cannot use the testimony that the book of Matthew gives to evidence Mark? Or that one cannot attempt to piece together Galatians with the Book of Acts? Of course you can. In fact, you must. These twenty-seven documents, all written around the same time, all telling similar stories, must be used to prove or evidence each other. If not, the historian is not being a historian, but something entirely different.

2. One must assume the inspiration of the Bible to say the Bible can’t prove the Bible

You see, if a person says, “You can’t use the Bible to prove the Bible,” he probably doesn’t realize he is borrowing a bit from the Christian worldview in order to even make such an assertion. What is being borrowed? The idea of the basic unity of Scripture or the single-authorship of the Bible. The only way to say the Bible can’t prove the Bible is to presume the inspiration of Scripture. Otherwise, there is no reason to link the canon of Scripture together in such a way. For the non-Christian especially, the Bible should be seen as sixty-six ancient documents, all of which stand or fall on their own. In order to make them stand or fall together, one must assume a single authorship of some sort. At that point, the argument becomes self-defeating, as the very statement (“You can’t use the Bible to prove the Bible”) proves the Bible!

…continue on for #3…


Footnotes


[1] For the seminary student:

The significance of the distinction between inerrant autograph and errant apograph may be seen from another angle. What difference would it make, some have asked, if the autographs did contain some of the errors that are present in the copies? Is not the end result of textual criticism and hermeneutics by both nonevangelical and evangelical essentially the same? As far as the results of textual criticism and hermeneutics as such are concerned, the answer to this last query is yes. By sound application of the canons of textual criticism, most by far of the errors in the text may be detected and corrected. And both nonevangelical and evangelical can properly exegete the critically established text. But the nonevangelical who fails to make a distinction between the inerrancy of the autographs and the errancy of the copies, after he has done his textual criticism and grammatical-historical exegesis, is still left with the question, Is the statement which I have now reached by my text-critical work and my hermeneutics true? He can only attempt to determine this on other (extrabiblical) grounds, but he will never know for sure if his determination is correct. The evangelical, however, who draws the distinction between inerrant autograph and errant apograph, once he has done proper text-critical analysis which assures him that he is working with the original text and properly applied the canons of exegesis to that text, rests in the confidence that his labor has resulted in the attainment of truth.

Some critical scholars have suggested that the distinction between inerrant autographs and errant apographs is of fairly recent vintage, indeed, an evangelical ploy to minimize the impact of the “assured results of textual criticism” upon their position. This is erroneous. Augustine’s statement, which represents the opinion generally of the Patristic Age, is a sufficient answer to demonstrate that the distinction is not a recent novelty:

I have learned to defer this respect and honor to the canonical books of Scripture alone, that I most firmly believe that no one of their authors has committed any error in writing. And if in their writings I am perplexed by anything which seems to me contrary to truth, I do not doubt that it is nothing else than either that the manuscript is corrupt, or that the translator has not followed what was said, or that I have myself failed to understand it. But when I read other authors, however eminent they may be in sanctity and learning, I do not necessarily believe a thing is true because they think so, but because they have been able to convince me, either on the authority of the canonical writers or by a probable reason which is not inconsistent with truth. And I think that you, my brother, feel the same way; moreover, I say, I do not believe that you want your books to be read as if they were those of Prophets and Apostles, about whose writings, free of all error, it is unlawful to doubt.

Robert L. Reymond, A New Systematic Theology of the Christian Faith, 2nd ed. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1998), 91-92.

[2] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 90.

[3] Ibid., 91.

[4] Ibid., 91-92.

[5] Norman Geisler, Systematic Theology: Introduction: Bible, vol. I (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2002), 498.

[6] Gordon R. Lewis and Bruce A. Demarest, Integrative Theology: Three Volumes in One, vol. I (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1996), 160-161.

[7] Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology, 2nd ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books/Academic, 1998), 259.

[8] Taken primarily from, Bill Wilson, ed., A Ready Defense: The Best of Josh McDowell (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson, 1993), 43.

[9] R.C. Sproul, John Gerstner, and Arthur Lindsley, Classical Apologetics: A Rational Defense of the Christian Faith and a Critique of Presuppositional Apologetics (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1984), 69-70.

[10] John R. Rice, Our God Breathed Book – The Bible (Murfreesboro, TN: Sword of the Word Publishers, 1969), 72-74.

See more on the Canon here.


Extended Video Presentations


Did the Ancient Church Muzzle the Canon?

Is What We Have Now What They Wrote Then? Part 1

Part 2

This next video is a very interesting video in that it is an argument on a Temple Library and the transmission of Scripture. Great presentation… shows that there are breakthroughs in Biblical history waiting to be correlated.

The Gospel Coalition (Januray 2015) – Lecture by John Meade. Meade speaks on the authenticity of the Bible. This video is part of ‘The Bible: Canon, Texts, and Translations’ playlist: YouTube Playlist.

This next video is a lecture from Masters Seminary, Theology I Lecture 08 “Authority and Canonicity of Scripture”

And a greatr study is with R.C. Sproul, and he makes a point that has eluded me a bit until now, and they are:

Roman Catholic View:

  • The canon is an infallible collecting of infallible books.

The Protestant view:

  • The canon is an fallible collecting of infallible books.

Political Correctness Devastates UCLA ~ Who Killed the Liberal Arts?

What in the world happened to the liberal arts? A degree in the humanities used to transmit the knowledge and wisdom imbued in the works of great Western artists, writers, musicians and thinkers like Shakespeare and Mozart. But today, that same degree stresses Western racism, sexism, imperialism, and other ills and sins that reinforce a sense of victimhood and narcissism. So, what happened? Heather Mac Donald of the Manhattan Institute explains.

UCLA now is about as worthwhile as a local community college. You no longer go to these institutions to learn about great ideas, but now must listen to the static of EVERYTHING being made equally great by the magic wand of the left. Dennis Prager read from — and commented on — Heather Mac Donald’s Wall Street Journal article about UCLA nixing classical studies as mandatory for English lit majors. Here is some of that article as read above:

The Humanities Have Forgotten Their Humanity
When Shakespeare lost out to ‘rubrics of gender, sexuality, race, and class’ at UCLA, something vital was harmed.

Until 2011, students majoring in English at UCLA had to take one course in Chaucer, two in Shakespeare, and one in Milton—the cornerstones of English literature. Following a revolt of the junior faculty, however, during which it was announced that Shakespeare was part of the “Empire,” UCLA junked these individual author requirements. It replaced them with a mandate that all English majors take a total of three courses in the following four areas: Gender, Race, Ethnicity, Disability and Sexuality Studies; Imperial, Transnational, and Postcolonial Studies; genre studies, interdisciplinary studies, and critical theory; or creative writing.

In other words, the UCLA faculty was now officially indifferent to whether an English major had ever read a word of Chaucer, Milton or Shakespeare, but the department was determined to expose students, according to the course catalog, to “alternative rubrics of gender, sexuality, race, and class.”

Such defenestrations have happened elsewhere, and long before 2011. But the UCLA coup was particularly significant because the school’s English department was one of the last champions of the historically informed study of great literature, uncorrupted by an ideological overlay. Precisely for that reason, it was the most popular English major in the country, enrolling a whopping 1,400 undergraduates.

The UCLA coup represents the characteristic academic traits of our time: narcissism, an obsession with victimhood, and a relentless determination to reduce the stunning complexity of the past to the shallow categories of identity and class politics. Sitting atop an entire civilization of aesthetic wonders, the contemporary academic wants only to study oppression, preferably his or her own, defined reductively according to gonads and melanin.

Course catalogs today babble monotonously of group identity. UCLA’s undergraduates can take courses in Women of Color in the U.S.; Women and Gender in the Caribbean; Chicana Feminism; Studies in Queer Literatures and Cultures; and Feminist and Queer Theory.

[….]

Compare the humanists’ hunger for learning with the resentment of a Columbia University undergraduate, who had been required by the school’s core curriculum to study Mozart. She happens to be black, but her views are widely shared, to borrow a phrase, “across gender, sexuality, race and class.”

“Why did I have to listen in music humanities to this Mozart?” she groused in a discussion of the curriculum reported by David Denby in “Great Books,” his 1997 account of re-enrolling in Columbia’s core curriculum. “My problem with the core is that it upholds the premises of white supremacy and racism. It’s a racist core. Who is this Mozart, this Haydn, these superior white men? There are no women, no people of color.” These are not the idiosyncratic thoughts of one disgruntled student; they represent the dominant ideology in the humanities today.

W.E.B. Du Bois would have been stunned to learn how narrow is the contemporary multiculturalist’s self-definition and sphere of interest. Du Bois, living during America’s darkest period of hate, nevertheless heartbreakingly affirmed in 1903 his intellectual and spiritual affinity with all of Western civilization: “I sit with Shakespeare and he winces not. Across the color line I move arm in arm with Balzac and Dumas. . . . I summon Aristotle and Aurelius and what soul I will, and they come all graciously with no scorn nor condescension.”

It is no wonder, then, that we have been hearing of late that the humanities are in crisis. A recent Harvard report from a committee co-chaired by the school’s premier postcolonial studies theorist, Homi Bhabha, lamented that 57% of incoming Harvard students who initially declare interest in a humanities major eventually change concentrations. Why may that be? Imagine an intending lit major who is assigned something by Professor Bhabha: “If the problematic ‘closure’ of textuality questions the totalization of national culture. . . .” How soon before that student concludes that a psychology major is more up his alley?

No, the only true justification for the humanities is that they provide the thing that Faust sold his soul for: knowledge. It is knowledge of a particular kind, concerning what men have done and created over the ages.

…read more…

Thinking Creation (I) ~ The Great Debate (Serious Saturday)

Geoscience Research Institute (2014) – All rational people have thought about what happened in the beginning, but not everyone has come to the same conclusion. Thinking Creation is not only about why thinking Christians embrace the Biblical creation, but also how this doctrine makes sense of the sometimes confusing reality we experience and the development of competing philosophies.

This video series is designed to serve as the beginning of a conversation, not the end; it is about reality in the past, present and future. Embracing a thoughtful understanding of creation frees believers from irrational philosophies built on events that don’t happen, and liberates them to embrace the beauty evident in nature. In other words, Thinking Creation is about a beginning, the beginning of a liberating journey to understand ourselves, our universe and our Creator God.

The Great Debate is the first episode in this series. It traces some of the philosophies that, over the course of millennia, have lead to the various ideas about origins that are current today. Some of the thinkers discussed include Democritus, Epicurus, Lucretius, Aristotle, the Apostles John and Paul, Thomas Aquinas and David Hume among others. As much as possible, the original words – or at least reasonable English translations – of these thinkers are used