Erroneous Assumptions

I’ve enjoyed reading “The Banana Republican”:http://thebananarepublican.blogspot.com. Every single one of his entries is short yet extremely intellectually stimulating. Naturally, most of the thoughts expressed there are based on certain assumptions and presuppositions, and as a result, some of the logical steps look a little ‘leapish’, but it is enough to get the ol’ mental juices flowing. ((The only thing I wish he would do is allow commenting on his site. I love being able to leave feedback.))

Here’s one from today:

bq. Negative Bible critics wrongly assume that the unexplained is unexplainable, forget the Bible’s human characteristics, assume the Bible is guilty of error unless proven innocent, confuse interpretations with revelation, assume a partial report is a false report, fail to understand the context, presume that the Bible approves of everything it records, neglect to note literary devices, assume divergent accounts are false, forget that only the original text is inerrant, assume round numbers are false, confuse general statements with universal statements, and forget that later revelation supersedes earlier revelation. “#”:http://thebananarepublican.blogspot.com/2006/02/negative-bible-critics-wrongly-assume.html

Several excellent points raised here, very adequately and succinctly stated:

bq. Negative Bible critics wrongly assume that the unexplained is unexplainable…

Try, for instance, the Trinity. How is it possible to have one Being that is actually three separate Beings and still have them be perfectly united as one. How can they maintain their separateness if they are the same? Or, the God-manhood of Jesus. How do you have an individual that is at the same time 100% God and 100% man. It doesn’t logically compute, yet the Bible states that it is, in fact, truth. It is not explained, but that does not necessarily mean it is unexplainable.

bq. …forget the Bible’s human characteristics…

Except where it is convenient to do so. Critics of the Bible are quick to point out the supposed contradictions in the Bible and claim that it is demonstrative of an inconsistent God. Or they want to point out that the Bible was written by men and therefore it is impossible for it to be truthful or accurate.

bq. …assume the Bible is guilty of error unless proven innocent…

Easy assumption to make, since every other book in existence has errors of some kind. ((Or tends to develop errors over time.)) But yes, they are quick to accuse and never allow the chance for supporters of the Bible to demonstrate how it is in no way guilty of error.

bq. …confuse interpretations with revelation…

Bingo. This is a biggie. Every single English translation has some error contained within it. That’s the nature of translation and why Biblical scholars place such heavy emphasis on the original manuscripts.

bq. …assume a partial report is a false report…

How true. Many places in the Bible only a partial record of events is given. Critics claim that this means the stories much be false, which is a logical fallacy. ‘A’ does not necessarily beget ‘B’, or ‘A partial record does not necessarily mean that the event did not occur.’

bq. …fail to understand the context…

Context is, in fact, often ignored. It’s actually a problem even within Christian circles. It’s easy to quote something as support for your arguments, only to find that, upon close examination of the original context, the passage does not actually say what you are trying to get it to say. Context is of tantamount importance.

bq. …presume that the Bible approves of everything it records…

How often have I heard someone accuse God of being unjust or unrighteous because of something they read in the Bible? ((Especially if someone else did it.)) Just because God allowed someone in the Bible to get away with an unjust crime does not mean that He endorsed it. The Bible is pretty clear, in fact, that in the end, justice will be leveled to all men and crimes will be punished once and for all.

bq. …neglect to note literary devices…

Another biggie. Literacy devices populate the Bible just as much as any other literary work. ((More, in some places.))

bq. …assume divergent accounts are false…

Psychology has shown that three people can see the same event and report that event in three different ways. Does that mean that any or all of the accounts are false? Not necessarily, since different perspectives provide unique lessons.

bq. …forget that only the original text is inerrant…

This being the original Hebrew for the Old Testament and the original Greek for the New. Even Christians forget that sometimes, and find themselve embroiled in bitter battles over which English translation ((KJV, anyone?)) is inspired. ((Answer: none.))

bq. …assume round numbers are false…

Ah, yes. Don’t we see this even in our news media? Numbers are often rounded up or down for the sake of ease of reporting? In such cases, the numbers are not what is important; it is the events that actually took place that are. The same goes for the Bible. In the cases where the numbers are important, they are precise. In the cases where they aren’t, they’re rounded.

bq. …confuse general statements with universal statements…

General statements are subject to some debate. If A happens, then B generally happens as a result. With universal statements there is no room for debate. If A happens, then B will always, absolutely happen. A little bit of study and discernment helps elucidate which statements in the Bible are general ((e.g. Proverbs)) and which are universal. ((e.g. the Gospel))

bq. …and forget that later revelation supersedes earlier revelation.

Absolutely. That’s the beauty of “understanding the Bible in its entire context”:http://open-dialogue.com/blog/?p=218. You get to see the progression of God’s relationship with mankind throughout time. Part of that progression is seeing how Christ’s work on the cross gave us new revelation that allows us greater access and deeper fellowship with the Father.

Great, thought-provoking thoughts, Will.

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