How Proof-texting is Ineffective and Disrespects the Bible

As a progressive blogger people often disagree with me—sometimes vigorously, and this is as it should be. I believe any statement, conclusion, or opinion I share is open to challenge. Exploring disagreement can be a very valuable experience; often I gain insights or learn something new from those who express opposing opinions. How much can I learn if I interact ONLY with those who already agree with me? I need to hear and understand the perspectives of those who think differently.

There are various ways to discuss disagreement, but today I would like to mention one particular method (used by many fundamentalists and evangelicals) that I consider totally ineffective and without value whatsoever—proof-texting. I assume most of us have experienced proof-texting.

What is Proof-texting?

proof-textingProof-texting is citing a biblical passage in defense of a belief. Sometimes it will include a short text of a passage along with the book, chapter, and verse reference, but often the proof-text will be only the chapter/verse reference without any text at all as though the biblical reference alone is sufficient as authoritative proof—without need of the actual words.

Now there is nothing wrong with citing biblical passages in support of our views; in fact, I cannot see how we can avoid it or why we would want to. But proof-texting is different in that there is little or no exploration of, or elaboration on, the text itself. The text is its own authority simply because it exists and it requires no explanation or interpretation beyond the short text itself.

It seems that any verse in the Bible, or even a phrase separated out of a verse, is a stand-alone truth slogan—a nugget of authoritative truth in concise form. It has no need for context, reflection, or explanation because it is self-evident and requires no elaboration.

The essence of proof-texting is quoting or referencing passages without elaborating on them due to the understanding that the proof-text carries its own clear, undeniable authority.

Frequently, a person will make a point followed by a number of chapter/verse references pulled from throughout the Bible and listed, without discussion, as proof of their point (with or without the texts themselves). Such a list of references is considered devastating against an opposing view, and the recipient is expected to accept them as listed; the proof-texts are the final conclusion to the discussion and that there is no escape from their ‘truth’ and applicability.

Many conservative believers are fond of this method of argument in debates. But I find proof-texting totally ineffective based on two very important failure points.

Proof-texting is Based on a Faulty Presupposition about the Bible

Proof-texting assumes that each passage, verse, or segment of a verse is a propositional truth statement. It is clearly stated in the Bible and needs no context or explanation because the statement is clear and self-evident as it is. The name for this assumption is inerrancy: anything written in the Bible is God’s own clear truth without error and is not open to question. But let me emphasize that this view is a mere assumption; inerrancy is not even taught in the Bible but is a presupposition that some people bring to the Bible.

The idea is that ‘God said it; I believe it; that settles it.’ But this does not consider that the Bible was written over thousands of years, in many places and cultures, in many situations, by many individuals who didn’t understand things the same way.

One big problem with proof-texting is that it only works in arguments between inerrantists who both hold to this assumption; proof-texting is of no benefit in discussion with a person who does not hold to inerrancy.

I do understand the perspective of those who use proof-texting. They have been taught a doctrinal system in which each thought and phrase in the Bible is an ‘absolute truth’. I was taught the same thing, but I discovered many of these ‘truths’ are not so much what the biblical writers say but what some believers along the way interpreted them to mean.

I might respond to a proof-text that includes the text (after placing it in its biblical context), but more often I ask for clarification on what the proof-texter intends me to understand from the text. The bottom line is that I do not find proof-texting persuasive.

There is a second big problem with proof-texting.

Proof-texting Ignores Context

I think the biggest difficulty I have with proof-texting is that the method does not consider the context of the individual passages—and the point of the context cannot be reduced to a few words extracted from it. Proof-texting assumes that the passages are relevant to the topic when in fact the authors might be addressing quite different issues, and it also assumes that the intent of each short snippet is self-evident, which it is not.

Lists of proof-texts tend to harmonize passages without letting each passage speak for itself within its own context. The individual passages might seem to speak to a common theme, but their significance can only be determined by the context within which they are found. Biblical verses are not slogans, or even arguments, that can be detached from the situation in which they are written. The intent of a proof-text can often be easily debunked simply by reading the context in which it is found, as we noticed in a previous example.

The richness of the Bible does not consist in unrelated proof-texts that can simply be strung together like beads or put together like puzzle pieces; rather it is in understanding the passages in light of the lives, culture, and understanding of the writers–and especially in the light of Jesus.

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124 Responses to How Proof-texting is Ineffective and Disrespects the Bible

  1. tonycutty says:

    This is a great piece, Tim, thanks for writing it. I have wanted to write such a piece for ages, but you have beaten me to it 😉 I might just have to reblog this, then!

    Regarding replying to proof-texters, I once saw a beautiful response by Jeremy Myers, of Redeeminggod.com. Here’s what he said:

    “It doesn’t do a whole lot of good to just quote Bible verses. I call that “Shotgun hermeneutics.”
    Everyone here believes the entire Bible. I believe 100% in the truth of those verses you quote. I am sure that [insert name] does as well.
    So rather than assume that we are ignorant of certain verses in the Bible, you should assume instead that we are aware of such texts, but just understand them differently”.

    Pure class. I have the URL if you would like me to cite it fully.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. So, Tim how do you deal with the Old Testament Prophecies concerning The coming of a Messiah which Jesus fulfilled according to New Testament writers. Those prophecies were scattered and written by different men with different perspectives but applied to one man and one (actually two) specific times in Gods plan for history. Daniels 70 week prophecy is one. Isa. 53. Several in the individual Psalms. They are in Joel, Zachariah, Jeremiah, etc etc. I know that you are aware of this, so do you consider these around 300 separate individual texts to be just proof texts? Or, to be lucky random writings that one might find in other historical writings outside of the Bible? Jesus even referenced a couple of these texts concerning himself which would have been taken completely out of the Old Testament context.

    So in my mind you need to do a better job of explaining why you who believe in God who is powerful enough to create all of this around us even through evolution is not capable of giving us a a reliable study guide without error in its original text, which explains his plan and purpose for this universe that he has created or evolved.

    It seems to me that a God who is capable of all this is capable of anything that he wants to do including giving us an inerrant text.

    I know that you will say that the following scripture is out of context but perhaps you can enlighten me as to its meaning.
    2 Timothy 3:16-17 All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

    Thanks for hearing me out Jerry Parks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chas says:

      attesc, The Judaic authorities do not claim that Isaiah 52/53 is a prophecy relating to the Messiah. They regard it as relating to Israel.
      The Messiah in the OT was foretold to be descended from David via an all-male line (son of David), but he could not be the Son of God AND an all-male line descendant of David.
      The Synoptic Gospel writers appear to have thought that Jesus was ‘Christ’ as shown by the that are given in Mark 8, Matthew 16 and Luke 9 by Peter to Jesus’ question ‘who do you think I am?’ However, the same writers all quoted a single passage from the Psalms (Mark 12:35-37, Matthew 21:41-46 and Luke 20:41-44) as proof that the Christ could not be the son of David. Despite this, Matthew and Luke tried to prove that Jesus was a son of David, via their differing genealogies for Jesus. It is not easy to explain these seeming contradictions.

      Liked by 2 people

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Well said, Chas!

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      • Maybe we should consider — these are the words of a man. Jesus actually quoted from this man’s words and said “it is written”.

        Deuteronomy 8:3, 11 He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord. “Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today;

        So Chas I know that it may make no sense to debate with you but the fact that Jesus was fully man and fully God is evident throughout scripture. God cannot bleed and die without having taken on the nature of man.

        As to the woman side of his lineage both Rahab and Ruth were included in that lineage. I find it interesting that they were both Gentile as was in fact Abram before he became the father of Israel.

        Finally as to the Jewish scholars not seeing Jesus in the Isa. passages, I think it would be evident why that would be the case. Jesus himself rejected their understanding of scripture. It was only the remnant that followed him that he revealed himself to.

        Finally I’m not sure I get your point was it that Jesus was entirely God, and not of a human lineage at all? Or was it that he was entirely man and not of God at all?
        Jerry parks

        Liked by 1 person

        • Chas says:

          attesc, you seem to have a very erroneous idea of God. God is indestructible and cannot be destroyed or therefore die, in full or in part.
          Jesus was Son of God. His mother was impregnated by the equivalent of a sperm nucleus that God had produced. He was entirely man, otherwise he could not have died.

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          • Chas, did Jesus claim to be God or didn’t he?

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          • Chas says:

            As I recall, from the words attributed to Jesus in the Gospels, he never claimed to be God. When asked on oath by the Sanhedrin if he was the Son of God, he replied that it was as they had said.

            Liked by 1 person

          • To Chas. Lest I be accused of proof text-ing I will just say that he did.

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          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Chas, I agree. Jesus was in some unique sense the son of God.

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          • Chas says:

            attesc, I’m afraid that I shall have to ask you to tell me the book and verse.

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          • Chas, I wrote the last before I read this from you. Should you want more proof texts I can supply them. Just let me know.

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          • Take a look at Revelation 1:17-18 for a direct quote. And what mere man can claim to be with us til the end of the age? Just asking. Thomas worshiped Jesus saying “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28), Jesus responded with commendation rather than condemnation.

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          • Chas says:

            attesc, in revelation, the writer gives words that he claims Jesus spoke to him, personally, in a vision, but the Gospels are supposed to quote actual words spoken by Jesus to more than one person. In no instance in the Gospels did Jesus state that he was God. In John’s Gospel, Thomas only said, ‘MY lord and MY God’ and worshiped him. This has been used to claim that Jesus did not stop him worshiping him and so accepted that he was God and should be worshiped. However, we are given no clue whatsoever about Jesus’ reaction to this. The writer does not tell us. The claim that Jesus tacitly approved Thomas’ reaction is therefore supposition.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Well said, Chas.

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        • Chas says:

          Tim, I think you have misread my comments, I am saying that Jesus affirmed that he was the Son of God, but he did not claim to be God. I believe that he was the Son of God, but not God. That I cannot accept.

          Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Chas, that was what I understood you to say and I agree with it.

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          • Chas, you cannot accept it. Jesus said I and the Father are one, Genesis portraying a Jewish concept of God, stated “let us (plural) create. Who is the us? — make man in our (plural) image. This plurality is seen in other passages of the O.T. When Jesus called himself the Son of Man, he was accused of making himself equal with God and therefore of blasphemy.
            The term Son of Man was used of Him by Daniel in chapter 7 when the saints are given the kingdom at the resurrection. I could go on and on but I know I will be accused of proof-texting. The point is I guess — there is Scriptural proof, so what do we do with it? There are some things I think in life that we ignore at our own risk. I don’t claim to know all truth, but exactly where do I go to find it? I’ve studied the men behind other religions and I find them wanting. The new age concept of one god expressed in many religions I find very confusing. Talk about contradiction. Any how — just sayin.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Chas says:

            attesc, the phrase ‘let us make man in our likeness’, and the use of the plural word Elohim in Genesis is clear proof that these texts are based on the ancient ideas of a pantheon of gods and have nothing to do with the One God who has let us know of His existence. The words ‘God and I are one’ mean rather ‘are in unity’, rather than ‘are one and the same’.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Chas, I think you are correct on both counts.

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          • Chas for some reason I couldn’t reply down below to your last, so I’ll do it where it lets me
            Chas, thanks for your comments back to me, I’m going to approach this a little differently because you seem to imply that God may not have had an impact on Genesis and I suppose other books as well. He revealed Himself at some later time, you don’t elaborate on when or how He He did that.

            At any rate, the way I see it, if I don’t trust scripture I have no foundation on which to stand. In other words I can make up my own god and you can make up yours, I can do what some do and claim that I am a god. I can worship Mother Earth.

            In fact the scriptures are the only reason a site like Jesus without baggage can exist, without the scriptures there is no Jesus with or without baggage. He was prophesied in the Old Testament to come. Even Moses spoke of Him. Had He come into a world who knew nothing of him, chances are we would not be discussing here today.

            If in ones mind scripture is contradictory and not reliable then they really have nothing reliable with which to prove anything to anyone else. Yes — I put my trust in Scripture as the source of the Holy Spirits revelation of truth to me. You apparently believe in Jesus in your own way, and He said that He would send us another counselor who would led us into all truth. The very implication of that promise is that there are contradictory arguments going on in our understanding of God that we need help with.

            So it should come as no surprise to any of us that some think the Bible to be contradictory, because they have not yet been led into truth much less all truth. And believe me I don’t claim to know all truth.

            One thing that you may want to consider and discuss further with me is what Jesus Jesus said in Matthew 12:32 Whoever speaks a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whoever speaks against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, either in this age or in the age to come.

            So my question — do you believe that these are men’s words or Jesus words? If man’s — Do you believe that the Holy Spirit had anything to do with their understanding of what they said here and of God’s possible involvement in this revelation? The scripture tells us that some are Jesus’ words, but men can tell us they are not. Who do you believe. You see all words are men’s words unless God decided to convey to us His word through chosen vessels. These are the things I think about.

            My trust is in the God who chose to reveal Himself through His word (who He tells us created everything that has been created), and that word we are told is Jesus. The word was made flesh and dwelt among us. Your problem seems to be that men (different men) wrote the Bible.

            Tell me just what has anyone put their trust in that is not of man? Sometimes of their own making without the involvement of other men, but of man none the less.

            I don’t understand everything about God or about the scriptures, but I seek my truth about them both through prayer and a reliance on what God has revealed about Himself to men who then penned these words which He seems to have inspired so that we would have this record.

            Much of what Paul wrote was inspired by his vast knowledge of the Old Testament. I see that as God’s involvement in a revelation that is progressive. And perhaps you should like that idea because it is evolving. I do not see the Scriptures as being that which is perfect and I don’t think Paul did either. Thy kingdom come Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven — that’s when things get perfect. Until then Paul said we all see in a mirror dimly. Paul says then we will know as we are known. I look forward to that day when Jesus sets up His kingdom on earth and even though we have differences I hope that you will be there along side me.
            Jerry Parks

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          • Chas says:

            Jerry, you have asked so many different questions here that it is difficult to know where to start. However, since this is the second time you have raised Matthew 12:32, this could be the best place to begin. This says that anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, however, it does not say whether this is speaking against the HS as in saying that He does not exist, or as in saying something that the HS is guiding you not to say. In some ways, this passage seems to speak of the ‘unforgivable sin’ which is referred to in 2 Peter 2, which describes the parlous state of someone who has acknowledged that Jesus was/is the Son of God, but now denies that they do so. While I believe that Matthew 12;32 is the words of man, and that those of ‘Peter’ are too, nevertheless, those of Peter maybe reflect his personal observations of people he had known. I too know some and suspect that Prof. Dawkins is now an evangelistic atheist for this same reason. When somebody denies that Jesus is the Son of God, having previously believed that, they appear to be unable to return to believing it. (If anyone reading this is aware of somebody whom they know who they are certain has believed, definitely turned back and then returned to the fold, please tell me after this comment, since I will be happy to learn if this hypothesis is incorrect.
            Yes, scripture is contradictory and I have relied on God to show me what He wants me to understand from it. Since you use the word ‘witness’, I should point out that some people have tried to tell me that the contradictions between the accounts in the different Gospels shows that they are ‘eyewitness accounts’ and that they differ as eyewitness accounts of an incident often differ. However, this claim would establish that these are words of men, not the Word of God, since there would be only one version if they were God’s words, as God is One and God is Perfect.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Chas, “Yes, scripture is contradictory and I have relied on God to show me what He wants me to understand from it.”

            So scripture is not God’s word, because it is written by men, and these men contradict one another in presenting what they claim to have seen and heard; and this after having been chosen by Jesus for the purpose of bearing witness to him who claims to be the truth.

            But you claim That the God, who is not inspiring and protecting the words of the men who Jesus chose to bear witness to him, can somehow “show you what he wants you to understand from it”. Why would he even want to show you what is truth when he didn’t show those who were writing about his only son 2000 years ago. Men who were actually first hand witnesses.

            I can understand why God would want to help you understand the seeming contradictions, and make things more clear to you, but why would he want to make you the few believers in an errant bible the only ones to be conveyed his truth, when he has the best selling book in print that rests on every coffee table in possibly the entire western world. Why would he not want his truth conveyed instead in his book especially if he intends to save everyone in the world as you guys apparently believe it.

            It’s obvious that I don’t believe that everyone will be saved simply because not everyone will believe in the Jesus Son of God portrayed in the Bible. I only need the Bible to support my view, you need extra-biblical revelation to support yours.

            I hope that I’m not misrepresenting your beliefs when I state this because I don’t really know your beliefs, but what I’m stating here seems to represent the word according to this blog.

            Yes, I am a skeptic. I’ve admitted this before, but not of the Scriptures. I am a skeptic of the Scripture deniers. I don’t understand everything about the scriptures but I believe God’s truth is there to be discerned and mined. I believe that when men shed doubt on the scriptures that they drive potential honest inquiry away.

            Hope I haven’t offended anyone except Lucifer. To anyone else I apologize.

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    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Hi Jerry, and thanks for the question. I think Chas did a good job in his comments on Isaiah 52/53, which is perhaps considered to be the most clear passage about Jesus from the OT. I agree with Chas that this was not written as a prophecy of Jesus at all.

      While the OT does talk in places about the anointed one (Messiah), it did not have in mind what we now think of as The Messiah; sometimes it was referring to a Jewish king (God’s Anointed One). The idea of a ‘Messiah’ as a national deliverer arose much later after the Jews returned from the captivity and then became subject to the hated Greeks. When the Maccabee brothers threw off the Greek yoke, they were the ‘Messiahs’, but later the Romans controlled Judea again so the in Jesus’ time people were looking for a new Messiah to deliver them.

      There were quite a number of such Messiahs who appeared over the next 150 years or so, but they all failed. Jesus was NOT this kind of Messiah; he was God’s ‘Anointed one’.

      Now the new Christian movement did scour the OT looking for passages that seemed to refer to the coming of Jesus, but this was mere correspondence of images; the writings were not intended by the original authors to predict the coming of Jesus.

      You state: “It seems to me that a God who is capable of all this is capable of anything that he wants to do including giving us an inerrant text.” I agree that God could have done that but see no evidence that he did.

      Regarding 2 Timothy 3, see here:
      https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/2015/02/03/the-2-most-harmful-religious-belief-the-inerrant-bible/

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hi Tim, I realize that I am treading on proof text grounds, but considering what Jesus instructed the disciples to do would it not be important to at least think that their own instructions to us would have been from him and thus God’s word to us? Listen: Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

        To me it was the teaching part that they were doing in their letters and gospels.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Jerry, I think you suggestion is reasonable. Jesus did teach his followers and send them out to share with others. But I see no reason to conclude that therefore their words to us are the words of God to us. They received the message of good news and the kingdom of God from Jesus, but then shared his message in their own dynamic ways–they were not simply indoctrinated robots.

          Further, their approaches were different and, though they did have common themes, there seems to be no indication that they were following a common script. I know that when a person is convinced of some sort of God-directed and protected inerrancy that it is difficult to see that challenged. As you probably know, I was a long-time inerrantist myself.

          Like

    • Alan C says:

      I’m not sure how it follows from II Tim. 3:16-17 that we’re justified in wrenching individual verses out of their original textual and historical contexts to suit our own purposes, which is what Tim was talking about. Sometimes I think the person who invented the verse divisions in Scripture did us a disservice. Verse numbers do make it easier to cite specific passages, but–especially in editions of the Bible that print each verse like a separate paragraph–they make it easier to cite an individual verse as if it requires no further exegesis. This happens even when the verse begins with a word like “for” or “therefore” which explicitly links the verse to what has gone before it in the text. Of course all that is a separate issue from whether the OT passages Jerry cites are properly applied to Jesus or not.

      Liked by 2 people

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Well said, Alan. One big example of quoting verses that are clearly linked to the previous verse is John 3:16. How many times have you seen it quoted, “God so loved the world…”? Not very often. It is quoted, FOR God so loved the world…’ and the ‘FOR’ is rarely explained.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Myra says:

    I just wanted to say thank you for writing this. For me, over the past few years, this has been a huge issue I have often thought of and struggled with. People who are quoting scripture but not reflecting the whole truth, context, meaning, story behind it. I believe in the Bible but I struggle when people interpret it to be the way they want it to be, what suits them and not the real meaning of it. So thank you for writing this! Much appreciated and happy to read that I am not alone in my thoughts and feelings.

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Myra, I am glad you found the article useful. And, Yes!, there are many who have similar thoughts and feelings about the deep inadequacy of proof-texting.

      Like

  4. Debi says:

    Following this discussion.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is so true. I have probably done this myself over time although I know better lol. Thanks for the good article.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Yes, I used to do this a lot when I was a fundamentalist–and I still might make a stand-alone reference but not in the way and attitude that I described here.

      Like

    • Alan C says:

      I don’t know how many times I’ve seen people simply cite a scripture reference as if that ends all discussion. “Leviticus 18:22. So there! Ha!”

      Liked by 1 person

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        “Leviticus 18:22. So there! Ha!” Alan, you are right; this is exactly the spirit in which many people use proof-texting.

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  6. Paz says:

    Thank you Tim for an excellent article! If only proof-texting could be more useful to help us agree to disagree!?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Tim, I love what you said here: “The idea is that ‘God said it; I believe it; that settles it.’ But this does not consider that the Bible was written over thousands of years, in many places and cultures, in many situations, by many individuals who didn’t understand things the same way.” The whole article is great.

    I would only add in one other important point to what you already wrote – that the Bible wasn’t written in English. And as such, different languages convey different ideas. For example, in Greek, the most important word in a sentence is the verb, not the subject. This changes the focus of any Greek sentence and conveys something about the culture in which the language is used. Hebrew has it’s own quirks as well – especially how sentences are constructed.

    If someone is proof-texting, most likely, they aren’t even proof-texting in the original language, but basing it off of a committee’s decision about what English language ears would prefer to hear about the text. It’s no shock that English ears don’t like to hear the same word used multiple times in multiple sentences, but when Paul, for example, uses the same word over and over again, he’s doing that on purpose – to convey an important idea. That often gets lost in translation when translation committees decide to use synonyms for Greek words because they know there will be fewer sales of books if the translation is closer to the actual Greek.

    Liked by 3 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Good point, Luther. Trying to understand the Bible from a simple reading is problematic enough, but the fact that most of us read it in translation adds additional problems. So for inerrantists, is the English translation also inerrant? Interestingly there is a significant group that believes the KJV is totally authoritative so that it can be used to choose between Greek manuscripts.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Great questions that never seem to be addressed by inerrantists. I’d love to hear someone who takes the bible literally explain how it’s ok to do that with a translation from the original language. I’d pull up, grab some popcorn and let them talk away. At some point I might be kind enough to take their shovel away as they would have dug themselves into a deep enough hole.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Chas says:

        Tim, Having given some thought to this, it occurs to me that this point about language and translations is a good reason for God not to have provided His own written-down word for us, since He would have known that it would have to be translated into other languages in future. It would then have been necessary to suspend man’s free will to ensure that it was available to us perfectly in every translation.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Good point, Chas; I had never thought of it just that way before. However, there are many KJV advocates who believe that very think–that the KJV is an inerrant translation.

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        • Interesting point you raise. Or at least one that came to mind. Does without error mean perfect? I know Chas you won’t like all of this but…

          Some Christians believe that what Paul taught in 1 Cor 13, when he spoke of “when that which is perfect has come”, somehow means that the Scriptures are “that which is perfect”.

          Is that what Paul or the Holy Spirit through Paul’s words meant? I don’t think so. But just because the Scriptures may not contain the complete fountain of truth from God’s perspective does not mean that God has not guarded the truth set forth in them. In fact the Scriptures could never contain all the knowledge of the Godhead, therefore they cannot be perfect but at the same time they can be inerrant as to God’s revealed truth simply because He is God — even in the translation. I know that it takes faith to believe that, but as I’ve stated before on this blog it takes faith to believe in any concept that try’s to explain life.

          Chas, you once told me that I had an erroneous concept of God, who is indestructible. Well I think you and others may have underestimated God who is all knowing and who can know how we will respond and record what He has revealed to us or to men who eventually penned while other men translated the words they penned. Not a hard thing for God to have His control over His word to us in my mind, without removing free will. But then I’m sure some think me to be too simple-minded.

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          • Chas says:

            Jerry, to deal with the last point first, we all inevitably underestimate God, since our minds are infinitesimally small by comparison with His. What mind other than His could conceive of the molecule DNA capable of producing all of the lifeforms that have ever existed here on earth, through the process of survival amidst the destructive events and conditions on the earth during its existence, and bring forth, in its time, mankind, a species capable of thinking and experiencing emotions, and therefore capable of relationship with God
            Without error should mean perfect. We can often see the imperfect, but God is the only One who is able to judge what is perfect. As to what Paul meant, only he and God know.
            God has controlled the content of the bible in the form that we have it. However, since it is not inerrant, we rely on God (or the action of the Holy Spirit, if you prefer to think of Him in that way) to show us what He wants us to accept as truth. If we grow Spiritually, He might change what He want us to accept as truth. He has certainly done that for me, because at first I believed that the bible was inerrant, but gradually it was revealed to me that it is not.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Ok, I think I understand where you stand. What I don’t understand is how you based on your belief of scripture as inerrant determine what parts contain error and which parts may be or in fact are God’s truth for you.

            Let’s take Davids statement. Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee.
            Is this statement truth or error? How do you determine this as fact?
            How do you know what characteristics of God to accept as truth and which not to accept?

            Liked by 1 person

          • Chas says:

            Jerry, I am not sure what you are asking me in the first paragraph, but the first thing that I recall indicating that the bible was in error was the wide discrepancy between the Genesis account of creation and the Darwinian model of evolution, since Darwin’s hypothesis fitted the observations and therefore fulfils the requirements of the scientific method, particularly when the findings of DNA studies support the hypothesis of a single common ancestor for all life. At about the same time, I noticed certain contradictions in the bible e.g. where God was said to have incited David to hold a census in 2 Samuel 24:1-4 compared with where it said that Satan had done this in 1 Chronicles 21:1-4. A direct contradiction in Exodus 33 (vs 11 in which it says that Yahweh would speak to Moses face-to-face, as one speaks to a friend, compared with vs 20, where it says that no-one might see Yahweh and live) was also a significant event in my realisation that the bible was not inerrant.
            Taking the example of the statement by David that you have quoted, at the time I believed the bible was inerrant, I would have accepted it as true, but since I now know that the only source that suggests David ever existed at all is the bible, I no longer do so. The available Egyptian and Assyrian sources do not mention him, Saul or Solomon, or even Israel itself, which would have been expected had it been a significant country that extended from Dan to Beersheba, as the bible claims more than once.
            Since I now know that the bible is the words of men, but that God has allowed it to be as it is in content and has also allowed it to become accepted by many as being His Word, I no longer personally use it as a source from which to gain His guidance, but I am aware that it has a vital role in being the primary source that God uses to show us His Son (although He has also to give direct guidance at the same time to achieve this). It is also important to new/young believers who rely on it as a means for God to give them His guidance.
            As to the characteristics of God, I know that He is kind and loving, and that He works to minimise suffering on the earth.

            Liked by 1 person

          • I must admit that I am not a real student of Archeological science, but have a genuine interest. One of the sites I follow http://www.unitedwithIsrael.org, as well as some others will at times post articles of archeological finds which lend evidence to the Old Testament accounts. I’m not trying to tell you that you don’t seem to have your reasons for truth as you see it, but I am somewhat a skeptic when it comes to man’s interpretation of things. Let me explain: today we have especially in the Arab world Holocaust deniers, couple that with a news media and a United Nations that is for the most part anti-Israel and 100 years from now there may be no record of the Holocaust. So I guess my next question would be have you looked at all into the finds in the Red Sea of the chariot parts?

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          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Jerry, if I may jump in the conversation for a moment I would like to address your question about David’s statement in Psalm 119: “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee.” Whether David wrote it or not, someone wrote the passage you quoted. You ask if it is truth or error.

            I read the Old Testament as I read any national literature. In an American literature textbook one will find entries by many writers, from different times, and in different genres. When I read the passage you mention, I understand that it is an expression of the feelings of the poet toward God. Is it true or error? Well, I assume it is a true expression of how the poet felt, and I can even resonate with him.

            But what does it mean that it is ‘error’? How can we question the sentiments of a poet? If it were ‘error’, in what way could it be in error? Does that mean the poet was mistaken? If so, mistaken about what?

            “Thy word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against Thee.” does not supply any information that could be objective truth or error; it is only the poet’s expression, and I think it is beautiful. This statement can only be true or erroneous if one assumes it is some sort of command, propositional statement, or a revelation from God and it is not. That would be an unfounded assumption.

            I think I read it as the poet intended.

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          • Chas says:

            Jerry, on the subject of archaeology, have you read about the work done in Nazareth, that shows it did not exist until about 25CE, so it would not have been possible for his family to have taken Jesus there soon after he had been born. Archaeological studies in Jerusalem have also shown that it was just a small hill town at the time it was supposed to have been the city capital of Israel. It seems likely that it was not fortified until the time of Hezekiah in the 7th century BCE.

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          • I need your proof. Here is mine to begin with: Sometimes some Muslims pick up on a very outdated atheist critique that Nazareth didn’t even exist in Jesus time. Here is a response from a resident of Nazareth, February 1998.

            Perhaps the Muslim “scholar” referred to the fact that there was no Christian Church in Nazareth until Queen Helena, Constantine’s mother came through Nazareth on her famous Holy Land trip in the fourth century and had the little basilica built over Mary’s Well to mark the spot of the annunciation by the angel Gabriel. They were recently repairing the road in front of the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation at Mary’s Well in Nazareth. They discovered earlier ruins in the process, so now the whole plaza in front of the church is now an archeological site and you cannot drive a car through!

            Down the road in the center of town the huge Basilica to the Annunciation built by the Roman Catholics preserves as its altar the first Century cave home of the Virgin Mary and its foundations are built over numerous cave dwellings. They have a little archeological museum with artifacts found during this period. Up the hill is the Church of Joseph built over caves which they claim were used as carpenter shops. Across the street the Sister’s of Nazareth Hospice is built over an ancient first century or earlier grave with the huge rolling stone door still in place. A block away (modern term!) the Greek Catholic Church in the market is built next to the ancient synagogue that Jesus read the Torah in and the people took him out to throw him off the hill the city was built on.

            So, anyone with eyes to see needs no proof of the existence of Nazareth in the first century and many centuries earlier! Nazareth was know as a city of refuge, tucked away in a mountain valley above the Valley of Meggido, or Esdraelon. It was a sleeply little hollow less than 2-3 miles from the metropolis Zippori where Mary’s mother was from. Zippori has recently been excavated by Duke University and is now one of the largest archeological sites in the country which shows first century and earlier synagogues and homes with beautiful mosaics still intact.

            There is debate about the location of Cana of Galilee, about five miles down the road from Nazareth toward Tiberias. The present Cana may not have been the site in the first Century. The site was moved in the early Christian centuries because the original site (Tel Kana) was unreacheable in the winter when the Natofa Valley flooded from the winter rains. The modern site does contain artifacts from the early Roman period. But the original site, which a local Muslim friend of mine took me too, is about three miles across the Natofa Valley in Tel Kana, which by the way, is also a network of cave homes.

            I can assure you the local Muslim villagers who live at these sites and use many of the caves for their stables do not doubt their authenticity!

            Dr. Ray Register (who lived in Nazareth for 25 years)

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          • Chas have you ever considered that you may be proof texting from archeological history? Just asking, sure there are always people who will attempt to twist science and history, but truth seekers should avoid enhancing their cause. I have found much more archeological evidence for the existence of Nazareth prior to the birth of Jesus than those claiming any nonexistent evidence.

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          • Chas says:

            Jerry, If I give you the proof, you will not believe it. It reminds me of the old joke ‘Don’t try to confuse me with the facts, my mind is made up.’

            Liked by 1 person

          • I like you Chas, you don’t get rattled, maybe a bit disgusted. I do appreciate the fact that you are seeking God’s truth. My worry when men put down the source of God’s truth is that they may find for themselves another god of their own choosing. One who has no power to sustain them in times of trouble. But I do want you to know that I appreciate God (truth) seekers. Thanks for putting up with me.

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  8. newtonfinn says:

    Should we not look to Jesus for guidance in interpreting scripture, as we do in all other areas of spiritual life…and life in general? Without getting into string citations of verses, as Tim wisely counsels us to avoid or at least to do in a balanced way, my overall impression of Jesus is that (pardon my bluntness) he played “fast and loose” with the religious texts that were popular in his day. Perhaps the clearest and most fundamental of Jesus’ teachings in this area was that the whole of the Law and the Prophets (the entirety of Jewish scripture) was contained in two interlocked commandments; namely, that we love God with all of our heart, mind, and soul; and that we love our neighbor as ourselves. Note that due to radical teachings like this, Jesus had to ward off criticisms that he had come to abolish the Law and the Prophets, saying that he had come not to abolish them but to fulfill or complete them. As you read through the gospels, it’s interesting to observe how Jesus refuses to simply follow the letter of the written law but rather says “you have heard it said, but I say unto you.” He also contextualizes scripture when he deems it appropriate, attributing, for example, the Mosaic law that certificates of divorce were permissible to the Jewish people’s hardness of heart at the time that practice was permitted. He also deftly undermined the Mosaic law that unfaithful wives should be stoned by insisting that the first stone be thrown by a sinless person. Because I believe that Jesus’ life and teaching was God’s ultimate revelation–an actual human life, not a book–I feel that faithfulness to him involves treating what eventually came to be called “The Bible” in the same manner that he treated the religious texts of his time. For me, this is an essential part of the liberation that comes through the gospel.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Newton, I agree with your “overall impression of Jesus is that (pardon my bluntness) he played “fast and loose” with the religious texts that were popular in his day.” Jesus did often refer to OT passages but used them to his own end. He did not use them as authoritative proof-texts to support his teaching as proof-texters do today.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Paz says:

    And shouldn’t truth ultimately be defined through a more universal approach so that while understanding our limitations, we focus more on where we can find our common ground in the teachings and example of Jesus…

    Liked by 2 people

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Paz, this sound good. Can you elaborate on what you mean?

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      • Paz says:

        To become more aware of how we deal with our limitations (collectively and individually) and embrace our differences as challenges to further help us grow together in our understanding of what it means to be a Christian, not just in general terms but in our own personal journey which has to allow for freedom to develop and grow in our “oneness” with God. Throughout history, there have been many extraordinary believers who have also found God in other profound ways such as the contemplative path where God is found in the power of silence and pure prayer. We are all different but nonetheless I believe in finding unity in Christ as a body of believers while allowing freedom of choice to evolve individually in our own personal relationship with God united by Christ who is our mediator between God and us. Spirituality is also a personal experience and much of this relationship with God is about SELF and TRANSFORMATION in our own personal relationship with Christ which ultimately leads us to find unity with others and in all…

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Yes, Paz, I like this a lot! Because we are different people we are going to grow in our ‘oneness’ with God in many different ways. I think this is quite legitimate; one person’s experience of God is not a standard to be applied to other people.

          And we will also develop our relationships with Jesus in different ways, and I don’t see this as a reason for us to disrupt our unity with each other as followers of Jesus. The point where I become concerned is when believers embrace harmful beliefs and practices and try to impose them on others.

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          • Paz says:

            Thank you Tim, I really appreciate your feedback and comments and I also share your concern about those believers who try to impose their harmful beliefs and practices on others. I really don’t think God intends it to be that way!

            Liked by 1 person

    • I too like Paz’s call for unity in understanding Jesus’ teachings and his example. Jesus we might agree even prayed for the unity of the believer in John 17.

      But I suggest to you that the problem resides in where we place our emphasis. E.g. Jesus taught us to love everyone — even our enemies, but what does that mean? Some conclude it means we are all loved by God in the same way and therefore there really are no enemies, you Tim might fall into that category as a universalist, but considering the whole context of Jesus’ teachings it must be — in my opinion — understood that there really are enemies, who will always no matter how much Jesus or His followers love them remain enemies.

      So — so long as ones bias and not Jesus teaching and example lead us we will never come to unity in thought or action.

      Liked by 2 people

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        “So long as ones bias and not Jesus teaching and example lead us we will never come to unity in thought or action.” Jerry, I agree with your statement but either of us could suggest that of the other.

        I am not strictly a Universalist, as I don’t think God overrides free will. I talk about that here:
        https://jesuswithoutbaggage.wordpress.com/2013/03/25/who-would-reject-the-father/

        Where do you think we should find unity in Jesus’ teaching and example that we don’t already?

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      • newtonfinn says:

        There certainly are enemies in this “fallen” world. Jesus, if we are to be completely accurate about his terminology, sometimes spoke of the evil one, although his references to “the enemy” are usually translated as evil in general. I know that many Christians no longer believe in Satan, and as traditionally depicted with horns and tail, neither do I. Further, I have doubts that there is one central focus or force of evil such as a single, solitary devil. But I think that Paul was on to something when he indicated that we are dealing not only with evil people in this world but also with “powers and principalities” of the dark side. Indeed, there seems to be something about the most horrifying manifestations of evil–the Holocaust, for example–that points to an origin beyond the evil that resides in individual men and women or in the even greater evil unleashed in the tribal groups they form. Those of us who believe in a personal God like Abba should perhaps not be too quick to discount the possibility that the powers and principalities mentioned by Paul are not also in our midst and working to thwart the Kingdom of God…until He decides to lift his finger and cast them out once and for all. For an all-good God to create something OTHER THAN HIMSELF–taking the idea of a separate creation really seriously–might He have had to create evil, however harmful and doomed to ultimate failure, as part of something essentially OTHER than Himself? I speculate about this, understanding that such answers are not ours to know until we see Him face to face. I do find it interesting that some near-death experiencers relate that, in the presence of the Being of Light, they see that the plan is perfect but are not allowed to bring that understanding back with them when they return to this world.

        Liked by 2 people

  10. I have heard you state what I consider to be a truth “we should not proof text or take passages out of context” but out of the context of what? I consider the whole cloth to be the context, and this I believe is why Paul stated “study to show yourself approved a workman who needs not be ashamed”. Just as you cannot know me or who I am by one or two of my posts, we cannot in my opinion know the mind of God on a given subject from one verse or chapter or book of the Bible. I try to study not just line upon line but here a little there a little. You once mentioned that the Bible is not a bunch of puzzle pieces that need to be put together — forgive me I’m paraphrasing your comment, but I see the scripture just as that — concepts on a given subject that must be put together to form a truth or doctrine. Many see contradictions within scripture, I see opportunity to understand the mind of God through thinking about those collisions of thought. I learn in life more from controversy than from following by rote one man or one theological position. For example: I’m almost sure that you have formulated an opinion of me and others who comment on this site, but you don’t really know us, and I’m sure that there are times when you are surprised by what we write because it does not necessarily fit the mold. So I would say that first people need to get to know one another and really listen so as to learn from one another. Don’t know if you’ve read “Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus”, but it was revealing to me concerning what makes up the thinking of a Muslim when seeking to prove his concept of truth to a Christian.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Jerry, I agree that the entire Bible forms a context but I think the two of us see that context differently. While you seem to see the Bible as a collection of authoritative statements that show the truth of God, I see the OT as the story of a nation trying to define itself and its relationship to its tribal God. And I see the NT as a response of the followers of Jesus to his teaching and example, and his more clear revelation of the character of God.

      This is all context, but I think we evaluate it differently. While you might see various passages of the Bible as pieces of a puzzle that can be fit together, I see people taking unrelated pieces and trying to force a unified picture from them. And I don’t think the mind of God is equally present in every passage of the Bible.

      Liked by 1 person

      • newtonfinn says:

        Tim, you’ve pinpointed this essential difference in exegesis quite well. I think it goes back to whether you believe that God’s ultimate revelation was a book or an individual human life. Those who believe the former must then make that whole book fit together, and one part of it is essentially no more important than the rest. Thus, so much OT thinking remains embedded in conservative Christianity, which is completely Bible-based. Those of us, on the other hand, who believe that the life and teaching of Jesus are God’s ultimate revelation, look to the Bible (especially the prophets and the NT) to gain knowledge about the man, Jesus–his life and teachings–and recognize that the “witness” of scripture about him must be evaluated in somewhat the same manner that witnesses are evaluated in a legal proceeding. There’s almost always a blend here of accuracy and inaccuracy, and thus a different kind of puzzle is presented to more liberal Christians (separating wheat from chaff) than that which challenges more conservative believers, who try to make the entirety of the Bible say the same or similar things in different ways. We are looking for a man. They are looking for consistency.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Newton, I like your conclusion that we are looking for a man while inerrantists are looking for a consistency that isn’t there.

          This is also very good: “Those of us…who believe that the life and teaching of Jesus are God’s ultimate revelation, look to the Bible (especially the prophets and the NT) to gain knowledge about the man, Jesus–his life and teachings–and recognize that the “witness” of scripture about him must be evaluated in somewhat the same manner that witnesses are evaluated in a legal proceeding.”

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        • Newton, I respect what you say here, but to me there is a third alternative. John says that Jesus is the word of God made flesh. Where in the world would anyone come up with that concept on their own. Jesus told the disciples that he was sending the Holy Spirit to teach them all truth. To me it stands to reason that this truth was being related to us through the writings of these men. In Old Testament times it’s stated in many places that the word of the lord came unto _____. Is their a connection? I can’t help but think that there must be. This is probably why I place so much weight on the word of men who knew God’s word — Jesus. I guess my question is — if I discount given parts of the Bible and those parts are representative of Jesus then am I in some way denying him. Now I know that Tim and others here think that these things in the end really don’t matter because we all in the end go to heaven. But I feel an obligation to get to know Jesus better. He said I am the truth and the life. If Tim is right and we all go the same path in the end, then why is trying to convince anyone of anything? I certainly agree with Tim that proof texting is done to the detriment of truth. I’ve heard it said that you can prove almost anything with scripture. I don’t agree, because stating something from scripture is not a proof in and of itself. And some things frankly cannot be found in scripture at all. E.g. Tim’s concept of hell is nowhere to be found in scripture. The Fundamentalist concept of a pre-Tribulation Rapture is nowhere to be found in scripture. Is scripture as important as Jesus? I doubt it, but if Jesus is the word and if scripture is the word revealed by Jesus through the Holy Spirit then it certainly is important. It obviously is not the whole of everything that Jesus stands for but it could be very important.

          Liked by 1 person

          • newtonfinn says:

            Jerry, I respect the integrity of your serious struggle to find the truth. And, yes, I would agree that the Bible is important, that the WHOLE Bible is important in light of Christian tradition, if nothing else, and that one’s stance toward the Bible is a crucial component of the truth one comes to establish for oneself. And let me be clear that I think there is a truth that transcends our personal versions of it, which are always imperfect. I am not a relativist or postmodernist in this regard. Nor is Tim and nor are you, and this gives us common ground upon which to converse–something to be thankful for in this day of polarization and communication breakdown.

            While I too am taken with the description of Jesus as the word of God (Logos) and believe in a Holy Spirit emanating from him, that guides us in our personal struggles to find the truth, I think we understand those concepts differently. For me, the word of God, the Logos, is a term that represents the ultimate structure of reality, the great design or plan of the universe. Through the Logos, everything was “spoken” into existence. The word of God is why everything is, how it works, how it all fits together, and, most importantly, where it’s all going and what it all means. Again for me, the Holy Spirit is the power and presence of Jesus that remains in our midst, even now 2000 years after he left us physically. As in his parable about a householder in the kingdom of heaven who brings out of his storeroom treasures old and new, I believe that new revelations of his truth and extensions of his teachings continue to come to us through some of his closest followers.

            Let me give you two examples of where I find the Holy Spirit speaking. Albert Schweitzer’s concept of reverence for life–compassion and responsibility for all living creatures, not merely human ones–strikes me, especially in this time of environmental catastrophe, as the natural implication and expansion of Jesus’ teaching of universal love, precisely as Schweitzer described it to be. Edward Bellamy’s inspirational vision of what a democratic society would look like if it were based on the Golden Rule (“Looking Backward” and “Equality”) strikes me as a profound fleshing-out of the kingdom come on earth, as Jesus taught us to pray it would. Do I believe in everything that Schweitzer or Bellamy said? No. They are not Jesus and wouldn’t presume to be, but I see in them, both intimate if unorthodox followers of Jesus, elaborations of his life and teachings that address vital issues that have arisen since the days of the Roman Empire.

            I hope that this helps you a bit, Jerry, to focus even more sharply on where your current thinking and mine or Tim’s may dovetail or diverge and provide additional food for thought as you continue to work out your own positions and convictions about God and His relationship to the universes around us and within us. I deeply appreciate the goodwill, persistence, and intellectual courage demonstrated by your continuing participation in this blog, and all of us are the better for it.

            Liked by 2 people

          • Thank you Newton, as Tim would say well said. I have constructed a saying to end all my emails– “words are powerful; use them well. Not my truth or your truth, but God’s truth is what matters.

            One day we will know His truth.

            Liked by 2 people

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Yes, Jerry! One day we will know his truth!

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  11. michaeleeast says:

    Tim,
    The biggest ignoring of context is the letters of St. Paul.
    These are letters to specific churches on specific issues.
    They were never intended to be taken as authoritative scripture.
    The Bible is a rich tapestry of poetry, history, metaphor, and symbol.
    To reduce it to a text book is blasphemy.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Michael, you are right. Paul was a person of great insight and expression, but his letters are often grossly misused and misapplied at God’s truth. I think if Paul were to come back today to find that his words are considered the very words of God he would be terribly shocked and horrified.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Spaniardviii says:

    I see here in the comment section, with all due respect a lack of love for the Scriprure. Jesus and God’s Word are two sides of the same coin. To say that scripture is not as important as Jesus would be an oxymoron. Without Scripture one cannot acquire saving faith as found in 2 Timothy 3:15 and Romans 10:17. Jesus, while being tempted by Satan used the Scripture to expose his deception and lies. Scripture strengthens a true believer’s faith and equips him/her with the full armor of God (Ephesians 6-10-18). Jesus clearly said that men does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God. If a professing Christian rejects the inerrancy, I would doubt that person’s salvation and to say that the Bible never claimed inerrancy, I would say that the statement is ridiculous. Jesus in the wildernesses relied on the Scripture because of its incorruptibility. If you notice that with Jesus, Satan did not dare try to make Jesus doubt the Scripture as having errors because he knew full well, speaking with the Word in person that God’s promises cannot be broken. That is way through the centuries, Satan tried to take the Bible away from peoples hands like in the case of the Catholic Church who outlaw the Bible. According to Ephesian 6, God’s Word is the sword and how do you think one can defeat a people other then disarming them. In the same, how can a Christian get defeated? By putting doubt’s in his mind of the Scripture. Satan killed Eve’s relationship with God by saying, “did God really say.” It’s simple, distroy someone’s faith in God’s Word and his faith goes along with it. That gentleman is Satan’s tactic and those who goes along are being used by him to destroy a Christian in doing God’s will according the Scripture.

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    • Chas says:

      If anybody’s faith is in the bible alone, then his faith is worthless. You might choose to do what you think is God’s will according to the bible, but because it is the word of men, you will be doing what men think is God’s will. If you do that, you will be doing God’s will, but you might not be doing what He would wish you to do. The difference between the two is to allow men to retain free will. Whatever we do has been done because He has allowed it. If He was not willing for that to be done, He would have prevented the circumstance in which we made our decision from arising.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Spaniardviii says:

        First of all, I would disagree with you wholeheartedly and I’m blown away with what you just said.

        For you to say this, “If anybody’s faith is in the bible alone, then his faith is worthless.”

        That statement tells me which side you’re on without a shadow of a doubt.

        The Bible is not men’s words like you wrongly said but it is the Word of Almighty God according to 1 Thess 2:13 which says, And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as a human word, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is indeed at work in you who believe.

        Paul to the church in Galatia says Galatians 1:12 I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

        2 Timothy 3:16-17 says, All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

        By you rejecting the Bible as God’s Word you are rejecting Jesus Christ. The Bible is what God said and His Word teaches us by the direction of the Holy Spirit how to do His will and how to live a life that pleases Him.

        John 12:48 says, There is a judge for the one who rejects me and does not accept my words; the very words I have spoken will condemn them at the last day.

        Jesus and His Word are two sides of the same coin. His Word convicts us of sin and directs us into His righteousness.

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        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Spaniard, I guess the best way to say this is that your perspective of the Bible and mine are not reconcilable; we see the Bible in completely different ways, so it is unlikely that we can come to an agreement. I do understand your commitment to inerrancy and the arguments you use because I was an inerrantist myself for many decades.

          You have a right to your opinion, but I cannot agree that: “Jesus and God’s Word are two sides of the same coin.”

          You state: “I would doubt that person’s salvation and to say that the Bible never claimed inerrancy.” I would say that salvation is too wide and too rich to be based on whether a person believes the Bible never claims inerrancy.

          “By you rejecting the Bible as God’s Word you are rejecting Jesus Christ.” I am afraid you are mistaken here. You do not know me; Jesus is the foundation of all my life and belief.

          Like

          • Spaniardviii says:

            Yes, Jesus is our foundation that is correct but the way we get to Jesus is the part that you seem to reject. Through Holy Scripture is how we get to Jesus Christ as seen in 2 Timothy 3:15 which says, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

            One of Jesus’ titles is “the Word of God” which is found in Revelation. Jesus is described as the Word before He came to earth for the purpose of dying on the cross. To separate Jesus and the Word of God goes against what’s clearly been revealed in the text.

            Your argument cannot be substantiated by the Word of God which you seem to be fighting against. If the Word of God has errors like you claim, then you cannot know which parts are true and which parts are not. At the end of the day, what are you really resting on? That type of position and logic is a catastrophe.

            The only one found in the Bible attacking the Bible or God’s Word is Satan (Genesis 3). You should take a deep inventory of your heart and see where is your motivation coming from.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Spaniard, I am not ‘fighting’ against the word of God.

            You state: “If the Word of God has errors like you claim, then you cannot know which parts are true and which parts are not.” I am afraid that this old argument does not stand up.

            Regarding your question: “At the end of the day, what are you really resting on?” The only thing I am resting on is the teaching and example of Jesus. That’s it.

            Like

        • I agree brother. The problem here is the fact that he thinks the bible was written by man. We all know it what written by God who inspired the authors to write what they did. Of course I know you know that. I guess we have not the power to convince him – may God enlighten his heart.

          Liked by 2 people

          • SpaniardVIII says:

            This is the type of logic you get when a person declares to follow Jesus apart from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The blind leading the blind. Really sad.

            Liked by 1 person

          • SpaniardVIII says:

            They are like a runner in a race to win not knowing that they are on a treadmill going nowhere.

            Like

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Sharon, I feel that I have been enlightened. For more than 30 years I was a convinced inerrantist, but then I realized that the various parts of the Bible were actually written by people who felt a connection to God but wrote within the limitations of their era, cultures, and their grasp of God’s character.

            The Bible is very valuable, but it is not inerrant, protected, or guaranteed by God; nor does the Bible make this claim.

            Like

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Spaniard, I don’t know how you reach the conclusion that I do not have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. I think that because of the Holy Spirit I am on a journey rather than a treadmill to nowhere.

            Like

      • You might choose to do what you think is God’s will according to the bible, but because it is the word of men, you will be doing what men think is God’s will. If you do that, you will be doing God’s will, but you might not be doing what He would wish you to do. The difference between the two is to allow men to retain free will.

        Tim, you are making what I conclude to be a contradictory argument. We either are or we are not in God’s will. It has nothing to do with our free will, which God has given us. When we chose our own will over God’s it is sin. And as free will agents we are free to do that.

        You seem to imply that what God has in you understanding allowed man to write in scripture that His will is for us, is doing his will if we follow it. Then you state that that may not be His will for us. Not sure how logic figures into this understanding?

        Let’s say that men and God conclude that adultery is wrong. It is harmful to all concerned because it injures the inner man, but man is free to commit adultery. It’s his choice. You are saying that I can conclude that it is God’s will for me, as I understand what your saying. God told me to do it. I say that if someone told you to do it other than yourself, it was not God who told you. Satan has come up in the past in these chats, I conclude that as the scripture states he has appeared as an angel of light in this case.

        Now let’s say that God says to me don’t marry that girl, and I don’t marry her and a year later the love of my life appears and I marry her. Do I believe that that is possible yes. However if I had married that first girl — could I still have followed God’s will not to divorce as scripture says? — yes I could but I could also be miserable in that marriage at times. So did I sin? Yes and I probably ask for forgiveness each and every time I realize I rejected God’s leading.
        Jerry Parks

        Like

        • Chas says:

          Jerry, You misunderstand the argument. God would not wish you to commit adultery, but if you did, it would be because He had allowed you to do so, so that would have been His will. If that had not been his will, He would have prevented the circumstances from arising in which you had the opportunity to commit adultery.

          Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Chas, I think I understand you to say that it is God’s will that we each have free will. If so, I think this is a really good point.

            Like

          • Chas that seems to be a fallible view of free will. If God wills me to committ adultery then it is really not my will that I am performing. I become a robot of some ying yang god.

            Like

          • Chas says:

            Jerry, you still haven’t got it. He wishes that you do not commit adultery, but because He allows you free will, you might do so. However, His view of the future might see that your committing adultery would lead to less suffering (e.g. if it caused your wife to divorce you and marry someone else) so He would then allow you to do it. (i.e. it would be His will for you to do it). If God saw that your committing adultery would cause greater suffering, then He would prevent it by not allowing the circumstances to arise in which you were tempted (while at the same time allowing all relevant parties to exercise free will). God always acts to minimise the overall suffering, because He is a kind and loving Being.

            Like

          • Chas your assumption that God always acts to minimize suffering is convoluted. If that were the case He has failed miserably in this (“evolutionary”) as you see it experiment. You once, I believe, told me that my God is to small, but have you considered that maybe your concept of Him is to small if He was not able to see all of the suffering that is and has been? I believe that the only way that He could ” minimize” suffering would be to take away free will, or to have never allowed it in the first place, but then His purposes would have been lost. For He wants a people who love Him to be His children. That love would be meaningless if it was imposed upon us by Him. And if He is truly a loving God then He certainly has not caused the suffering. Sin has.

            Liked by 1 person

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Jerry,

            I must agree with you on this one. I don’t think God manipulates either physics or free will. I do not think God causes suffering, nor do I think God minimizes suffering by imposition. I do believe however that God wishes to heal us of our fear, brokenness, and alienation, which is why Jesus was sent to give us the good news of the kingdom of God.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Chas says:

            Jerry, If God is kind and loving, which I truly believe, it follows that He will take action that will minimise suffering, within the constraints that He chooses not to destroy, but gives us free will, both of which are necessary to bring forth from the earth beings capable of loving Him and having relationship with Him. The god in whom you seem to believe is capable of ordering people to destroy others, even to the extent of committing genocide, as shown in the bible in which you put your trust. Such a god cannot be described as kind or loving.

            Liked by 1 person

          • Chas, based on our understanding of committing genocide you may be correct. A loving God would not do that, but if you or I knew for sure that kim Jung Un was going to destroy Japan tomorrow. Would it be a loving or unloving act to destroy him first? The God of the Old Testament is the same as the God of the New. He often is portrayed as wrathful and unloving. Some therefore say that His grace only became manifest in the New Testament, but overlook that He was long suffering in the Old just as He has been in modern days. You chose to believe that the genocide committed in the Old was an evil thing, but God seems to have the same attributes at all times. His grace was available to free will agents in those days just as today, but with one difference — the Holy Spirit indwells all believers today. Then there is no evidence that He indwelt all. Some that He indwelt the prophets. We have some today in the Arab world who teach their kids to hate all Jews. What if a day comes when every citizen of a given country is nothing but a hater, because that is all that they have been taught, and what if God knowing this decided to save the Middle East from being wiped out by destroying that one nation. Remember He is God. He knows the number of hairs on your head. Is He not still a good God in that circumstance?
            Jerry Parks

            Like

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Chas, for inerrantist who believe such OT scenarios truly represent God you make a very strong point: “The god in whom you seem to believe is capable of ordering people to destroy others, even to the extent of committing genocide, as shown in the bible in which you put your trust. Such a god cannot be described as kind or loving.”

            I do NOT believe God was responsible for ordering or abetting these horrid acts. They came out of tribal conflicts and aggression that often arise within societies.

            Like

          • Tim, I understand that there is archeological evidence for the destruction of Soddom and Gemorah. Do you know if that is correct?

            Liked by 1 person

          • Chas says:

            Jerry, In regard to your question: if you or I knew for sure that Kim Jung Un was going to destroy Japan tomorrow, would it be a loving or unloving act to destroy him first? This is easy to answer, It would be an unloving act, as a) it would require an act of destruction, which God would not do and b) it would disrespect God, since God could easily prevent Kim Jung In from destroying Japan if He wanted to do so and He might not want to do so if He could see that it would lead to less overall suffering. What might not be clear to you is that God is using mankind to destroy, where He judges it to be necessary, because He Himself is not willing to do so

            Like

          • But Chas, if He is using mankind to destroy where He may not want Himself, as I think you stated, would that process of destroying evil not align with what we see occurring in the Old Testament? And would that destruction then be God’s will? Maybe I misunderstood your point.

            Like

          • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

            Jerry, I vaguely remember having read about something of the sort, but I don’t know if it was based on scholarship or whether it was not. On the other hand, I also remember reading another explanation of Sodom and Gomorrah in which they were destroyed by bolides and ash from a large, somewhat distant volcano. Again, I don’t recall if this was genuine research or conjecture.

            Sorry I could not be more helpful on this.

            Like

          • Chas says:

            Jerry. you have still missed the point. God would never tell people to destroy, they do it by themselves through their own free will. He wishes they would not do things that will cause suffering, but since He knows everybody so well, He always knows what they will decide, so He uses their free will decision that will cause some degree of suffering to bring about a situation that will minimise the overall broader or longer term suffering.

            Like

          • Ok Chas, I’m going to stick with your line of thinking for a bit. God knows everything that we will do and uses it to minimize suffering, and He only interferes with circumstances in order to further minimize suffering. Did I get that right? This being the case with Human action, He also must have the ability to minioulate weather circumstance to minimize suffering. Do He? If not why not? Is it that He is not loving or that He is to busy with humans? Or that maybe he does allow Tribulations into certain lives in order to get our attention, or turn us around or even test our faith. James says that once we pass the tests of life we receive the crown of life. Could that have anything to do with it?
            Jerry

            Like

          • Chas says:

            Jerry, God does not interfere with the weather or any other physical process on the earth, with exceptions that I shall return to. Extreme weather events, landslides and earthquakes result from destructive events that occur on the earth. God created the universe to contain the mechanisms of destruction, so that these extreme events would occur on the earth, or it would have been inert and unchanging. For the process of evolution to operate as it was designed, it was necessary to have changes occurring, so that variants having advantage over their original fellows could survive and reproduce, bringing changes to their species. This brings me to the exceptions. There seem to be two. The first was when God created the first living thing on earth, from which all other living things have evolved. The second was when He created the half-cell that fertilized an egg in the mother of Jesus to create His Son.

            Like

          • Where exactly do you get this stuff? How do you seem to know so much about what God did and didn’t do. Is there some scientific evidence you can site to support your belief? I know that your wisdom is not coming from the Bible.

            Like

          • Chas says:

            Jerry, if you can’t tell where it has come from, then I can’t help you.

            Like

          • Well you leave me no alternative than to rely on my own mind (kinda like you have done in your post) and we both know where that leads one. Creating our own truth out of thin air does work for many though. Thanks for interacting with me.

            Like

      • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

        Well said, Chas! Very well said.

        Liked by 1 person

      • That is so untrue. Sorry to oppose you but that is a Muslim way of thinking – that if God allowed it then it was God’s will. Many women fall pregnant outside of marriage but that doesn’t mean it was his will for millions of illegitimate kids to be wandering around. It was the woman who refused to obey God and did her own thing. This is a big topic though and it is off-topic to what the author was originally trying to say, so I will end there.

        Liked by 1 person

        • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

          Sharon, I agree with you that God does not will everything that happens. And you are right; that is more of a Muslim way of thinking–al-qaḍdāʾ wa al-qadr.

          Like

  13. Spaniardviii says:

    @ jesuswithoutbaggage
    You said “The only thing I am resting on is the teaching and example of Jesus. That’s it.”

    Your statement is a pure contradiction, how can you claim to rely on Jesus’ teachings and turn around and say that they are faulty? Where is the logic in that? Which parts of the Bible do you deem correct and which are not? Basically, you like to pick and choose the parts that you like and dismiss the ones that you don’t. That halfhearted commitment is what Jesus Christ loathe according to Revelation 3:16. You cannot claim that you follow Jesus’ teachings and turn around and teach people that they cannot rely on them since they have errors. Honestly, what is your logic? All I can say is, that type of logic is void from Scripture. In Scripture, you have the opposite where the prophets, King David, Asaph in Psalms 119, Apostles and Jesus Christ Himself hold Scripture very high and even claim that it cannot be dissolved and the Word of God endures forever as found in 1 Peter 1:22-25.

    Like

  14. Spaniardviii says:

    You said “Spaniard, you are off base in your accusation that I, “like to pick and choose the parts that you like and dismiss the ones that you don’t.” I hear this all the time and it is untrue”

    How is my assessment of “you picking and choosing” off base? If a person has a document and some of the things in the document that the person feels are unreliable, would it be off base to say that the person will not trust in what he feels is in error? The person will believe what he feels is correct from what he feels is incorrect. That’s your picking and choosing what I was referring to. Nowhere in Scripture does it teaches that the whole Bible or Scripture cannot be trusted because of error. Either we believe what Scripture claims for itself or we don’t.

    I will look at your link that you have provided.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. kertsen says:

    Christians look for consistency , it is the rock on which they seek to rest and stand and for that reason they Proof-tex. It’s a harmless practice and gives many the security they crave and which we all had in out mother’s arms. Some are so bent on consistency that they are totally blinkered to any alternative Proof-texing. This can lead to isolationism and the formation of a small group of totally enlightened souls.
    Perhaps you can see the journey towards ISIS a group who are always right and who can do no wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jesuswithoutbaggage says:

      Kersten, you are right that most proof-texting is based on the idea of consistency in the Bible. The assumption is that the Bible is God’s own inerrant word throughout. But this is not true, and using lists of proof-texts to argue a point is of no value unless the other person has the same misguided view of inerrancy.

      As you say, it does provide a feeling of security, but false security is not necessarily a good thing. I don’t think proof-texting is harmless; it often leads to false conclusions taken out of the context of the texts, themselves.

      Like

    • In my opinion there is one flaw in your premise. If one truly believes in the inerrancy of scripture it becomes very difficult to think that they are capable of doing no wrong. However I can certainly see the propensity for cult like behavior if one thinks that they are the only ones who know all truth. Interestingly Jesus words promised this condition to his followers. But he never stated that that condition would be achieved in this lifetime. And scripture itself supports what he said, but with the caveat that belief in and the study of the scriptures at the guidance of the Holy Spirit were needed to take us in that direction.
      Jerry Parks

      Liked by 1 person

  16. jesuswithoutbaggage says:

    Anthony Cutliffe commented on this article in another venue. But I want to post his comment here. Thanks Tony for this excellent comment!

    “Proof-texting actually disrespects the recipient of the
    proof-text salvo.

    “First, it assumes that the recipient does not know their Bible, and
    needs to be ‘reminded’ or even told as if they haven’t read it at all.
    Granted, this is sometimes the case, but a proof-text is rarely couched
    in such terms that show respect for the recipient’s prior learning. A
    better way would be like Jesus did in saying, ‘But haven’t you read
    [this verse]?’

    “Second, it assumes that the recipient has to interpret that Scripture in
    exactly the same way as the proof-texter. Simply remembering that there
    are tens of thousands of Christian denominations is sufficient to
    illustrate that such an agreement on interpretation is not always achieved!

    “Thirdly, it does not allow the Spirit to have spoken Her own words to
    the recipient independently; this is as distinct from the above point
    about our own interpretation. It’s all very well us having different
    interpretations, but God has to be free to give us what He wants us to
    hear from any Scripture, and this may well be different from what others
    hear on the same Scripture, or even what the same person hears but at
    different times. Sure, it’s like doing the ‘God said it!’ claim, but
    actually that’s exactly what has happened!

    “In these ways, the autonomy of belief of the recipient of the proof-text
    is disrespected. But usually autonomy is not what the proof-texter is
    bothered about; usually it’s conformity! :)”

    Like

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