First off, I'm really sorry for taking so long to respond... I don't have a good excuse, really.
How does separating the historical context of Scripture from the ideas given to us in Scripture erode the significance of the ideas proposed? I ask primarily because I've always been of the opinion that the truths give to us in Scripture possess intrinsic, timeless significance distinct from their historical context - I think that the golden rule was just as true in the day of Adam as it was in the days when Jesus walked the earth. And I agree that the historical and scientific parts of scripture can indeed be useful - but I don't understand why they have to be 100% accurate or true in order to be useful?
Some of the ideas, like the golden rule, aren't tied to historical events. But God's plan of salvation unfolded through history--starting with the fall, through God setting aside a specific nation for Himself and revealing Himself to them, and Jesus' life, death, and resurrection. God could have given us a theological textbook, but instead He gave us a book that probably has more history than straight theology in it. So yes, the truths in Scripture do have timeless significance, but they're also tied to temporal events. I don't see why God would give us a book grounded in history without ensuring that the history was accurate (of course, I don't see why God would do lots of things… I guess what I don't see is why we would assume that He's given us an inaccurate book when He's perfectly able to give us an accurate one). Francis Schaeffer said it better than I can: "How strange if the noncreated Personal is not a liar or capricious, that He should give 'religious truth' in a book in which the whole structural framework, implicitly and explicitly, is historic, and yet that history be false or confused."
Another thing that makes me uncomfortable with saying that the history and science aren't entirely accurate is that it seems to make a distinction between spiritual truth and historical or scientific truth. Specifically, separating spiritual truths from the accuracy of historical facts makes spiritual things subjective and completely distinct from the objective realms of science and history.
I think we might be missing each other a bit here... I am not rejecting the idea that Scripture is inspired by God. Rather, I am rejecting a very specific form of inspiration called the plenary inspiration of scripture (EDIT: upon further research, this is actually plenary verbal inspiration of scripture. Sorry for any confusion.), which states that every word in Scripture comes directly from God. In it's place, I'm suggesting that all the spiritual concepts in scripture are inspired, even if not the specific words. I'm honestly not quite sure how someone could use that doctrine to throw out "inconvenient parts" of Scripture. Could you perhaps provide an example?
Ok… I think I understand a bit better now. I guess believing that all the spiritual concepts are inspired wouldn't lead quite as directly to ditching unpopular teaching. Two questions/concerns: First, saying that only the spiritual parts are inspired (if that's what you're saying… correct me if I'm wrong
) makes the same dichotomy between faith and facts that I was talking about above. Second, inspiration seems a lot more squishy if you say that the general ideas, not specific words are inspired. There seems to be much more leeway for coming up with all sorts of interpretations… but maybe I'm making too big a deal of it.
Hopefully I've more or less responded to your main points… thanks for being patient with my somewhat fuzzy thinking/explaining.
Green Tea wrote:
1. Contradictions in the original autographs are different than contradictions in later copies. I don't believe that the original autographs, that is, the actual parchment or clay tablet that the original author wrote on, contain contradictions. However, copyists may have made errors about things like numbers. Those aren't errors in the inspired text, though, because only the autographs are truly inspired.
Why posit this this? I ask this question in two senses.
(1) What reason do we have to think this of the original inscriptions? There is certainly nothing in Scripture that makes such a requirement, nor is there anything in Christian doctrine or church history that would require it, and there seems to be no logical reason to posit it. Why think this?
(2) What is at stake in positing this of the original inscriptions? I have a hard time seeing of what use such a theory would be. It seems that the properties of texts to which we have no real access (directly or by reconstruction) simply cannot have any real meaning for us, theologically or otherwise.
1. I assume you mean positing that there are no contradictions? The normal logic behind it is that if two parts of Scripture contradict each other, one of them is false. Coming from the point of view that God inspired all of Scripture, it can't contain anything false because then God would be lying. Is there any logical reason to suppose that there are contradictions in Scripture? (that's a genuine question, btw, not rhetoric or snark
2. The point that I was making is to recognize that copying and translating errors do occur occasionally, and that they aren't a result of inspiration. Just to be clear, I wasn't saying that modern copies/translations don't have any value; they're inspired insofar as they represent the original text. And through textual criticism, we know that they represent the original texts remarkably well.
And one last thing… Isaiah, the dog in your avatar is ridiculously adorable.