Thursday 16 February 2012

As Good as a Wink

The latest issue of The Journal breaks the mold by publishing an essay by Walter Wink.  Wink is a respected biblical scholar, not a sectarian dilettante.  Heart attack territory for some of the brethren!

Talking about dilettantes, there's a big response to Dixon Cartwright's piece about the canon in the previous issue.  Ken Westby puns about 'canon fodder' and sagely suggests that "a God who can create the cosmos can inspire canonizers."  No doubt, and such a God could do a lot of other things too which he/she/it clearly doesn't, but probably should.  Ian Willis, a British COGger, says stuff the Church Fathers, "A sovereign, all-powerful, loving God—Christ—moved men to understand which writings were inspired by Him and which were not."  The logic?  "We know the Bible is infallible because it claims to be infallible."  Wes White thinks "a canon created by Catholics would've better supported their doctrines."  A bit of myopia showing there Wes?  Mike Baran was "a little shocked" (if you're twitching Mike, there's still hope).  Gordon Feil is worried that inerrancy is at stake (yup Gordon, ya got that right chum) and that the canonical writers were forced to write what they did by something resembling an act of literary rape.  The emminently reasonable Dave Havir takes a deep breath and speaketh calming words on the issue.

Dixon really seems to have hit a nerve!

This is a question that I've blatted on myself in the past.  While it needs some further editing, my own position is pretty much the same as it was when I wrote Questions about the Biblical Canon way back in the long ago.

As for The Journal, you can download the complete issue in PDF format and check it out for yourself.  If you don't have a COG (Church of God) background, pour yourself a stiff drink first.


  1. As Brinsmead pointed out in an earlier piece on here see "Bill is Back"11Feb2012, that not all branches of today's Christianity have the same 27 books! And a recent piece on Vrider, 'John vs Paul', showed that within this hallowed 27 book canon is one place where 'meat offered to idols' is okay, but later sternly condemned by Jesus himself in his'messages to the churches'. Hadn't noticed that before!

  2. It sure is fun to watch these guys recoil when their assumptions are challenged.

    "a God who can create the cosmos can inspire canonizers." You've got to love it. These guys assume God inspired the bible and then can't fathom why anyone would see anything imperfect about it. But to a person who reads the bible without preconceived assumptions, the imperfections are pervasive and obvious.

    "A sovereign, all-powerful, loving God—Christ—moved men to understand which writings were inspired by Him and which were not." Shouldn't he write "I assume" before saying this? Oh, that's right, these are apologists. They think their assumptions are facts.

    "We know the Bible is infallible because it claims to be infallible." Well, maybe that's good enough for them. I know it is NOT infallible because (1) I can show you places where the bible says a man had six sons and then lists them by name and - guess what - there are seven names; (2) I can find descriptions of Saul's death in three different places and - guess what - he died three different ways; and (3) I can show you hundreds of other such errors.

    Personally, I thank God I am no longer blinded.

    The Skeptic

  3. Thanks to you and Dixon for the free copy of The Journal! It always makes interesting reading. We former members, even if we're now unbelievers, are forever curious as to what is happening with our former brethren.

    I love the lead story - "Pastor says don't cram Bible's passages together". Doug Havir preached two back-to-back sermons, using Bible verses to prove both that (1) Christians need to divest themselves of worldly goods and (2) Christians don't need to divest themselves of worldly goods.
    His point? "preachers can come to remarkably different conclusions in their exhortations and yet all be sermonizing from the same book: the Bible".

    It's a shame he wasn't able to take this to its natural conclusion and tell us why. The fact is, the old line "you can prove anything from the Bible" is absolutely true. The bible was written by dozens of authors over a period of many centuries and was edited along the way by hundreds more. It says all different things. It contradicts itself throughout. And that is why.

    The Skeptic

  4. "a canon created by Catholics would've better supported their doctrines."

    You would think so, right? But, since there were no Catholics when the books of the NT were written they're just as stuck with what they have as we are.

    Of course, Catholics have a way around contradictory doctrine - "divine tradition". Ahh, you see, they know what the correct interpretation is because of that one simple thing.

    The orthodox church tried to keep NT writings in line with the developing doctrines by interpolations and "corrections". However, after the time of Constantine and Eusebius, there was little else to do except make the scriptures taboo for the common man to read.

    All the memes and presuppositions are in place now, being taught them from birth over thousands of generations, and being born in a Xian culture, it's hard to reject them in favor of knowledge and reality.

  5. I have a revisionist view of the Bible but I believe this view is within the pale of orthodoxy. I affirm the theological value of the Bible but deny its cultural position.

    The background for this view is that at one time God fostered a direct interpersonal relationship with man. But man rejected this relationship. The outcome is the human society with its good and its evil that we have had since. What ended dramatically was man's direct engagement with God.

    The Bible, far from being "God's handbook for man," is a part of that loss of direct communication with God. Many Christians would recoil at this statement because of the concoted cultural significance we generally attach to the Bible. But the Bible is a part of the penalty that man suffered as a result of the rejection of God.

    It is not a clarion statement about how all things in reality operate. It does not supplant the daily activity of the Holy Spirit in people's lives. It is not intended to be God's argument against atheism. It is intended to demonstrate to man what happens when you reject God. Instead of direct communication with God, you get a portfolio of ancient texts which human beings following the scholastic approach cannot accurately translate, interpret or agree on. Moreover, it permits the deniability of God which is highly attractive to the human mind and is where this whole thing started.

    -- Neo

  6. Neo, this sounds like God's "breach of promise" to the Israelites just before making them wander 40 years in the desert. Also, like Jesus' delayed coming has been caused by apostasy.

    Grasping at straws is what it amounts to and nothing more.

    it [scholarship] permits the deniability of God which is highly attractive to the human mind.

    Since when? Just as you have demonstrated, people would rather hang onto their beliefs no matter what. Facts don't matter, science doesn't matter. No, it is faith in beliefs that is highly attractive to the human mind.