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Author Topic: The Inerrant word of God  (Read 589 times) Average Rating: 0
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Scott
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« on: June 13, 2011, 08:29:18 PM »

I know (or I think I know) that the Church does not have a dogmatic stance on this issue. If this is incorrect, please correct me. But I would like your opinions on this.

Is the Bible the "inerrant" word of God? If it's not, then how should we view it? Were Adam and Eve literal human beings, and if they were not, then what should we think of the existence of Cain and Abel, Noah, Moses, etc.?

And how do we make a distinction between what is meant to be taken figuratively (Like, maybe, the talking serpent in the Garden of Eden, and the temptation to eat some fruit) and what is meant to be taken literally? If the story in Genesis is not meant to be taken literally, how do we know Moses and the Ten Commandments (for example) are to be taken literally?
Thanks in advance for any answers or viewpoints.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2011, 08:33:20 PM by Scott » Logged

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« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2011, 09:22:24 PM »

To the best of my knowledge the only real dogmatic stances taken on scripture are that

1) When Christ was raised from the dead, it was done according to the scriptures. (Nicene Creed)

2) Scripture must be interpreted within the context of our creed, councils, church fathers, iconography, hymnography, prayers, liturgy, and the continuous teaching of the Church and cannot be in disagreement with how the Church has always understood scripture.

We believe the Divine and Sacred Scriptures to be God-taught; and, therefore, we ought to believe the same without doubting; yet not otherwise than as the Catholic Church hath interpreted and delivered the same... Wherefore, the witness also of the Catholic Church is, we believe, not of inferior authority to that of the Divine Scriptures. For one and the same Holy Spirit being the author of both, it is quite the same to be taught by the Scriptures and by the Catholic Church.
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Scott
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« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2011, 09:36:26 PM »

To the best of my knowledge the only real dogmatic stances taken on scripture are that

1) When Christ was raised from the dead, it was done according to the scriptures. (Nicene Creed)

2) Scripture must be interpreted within the context of our creed, councils, church fathers, iconography, hymnography, prayers, liturgy, and the continuous teaching of the Church and cannot be in disagreement with how the Church has always understood scripture.

We believe the Divine and Sacred Scriptures to be God-taught; and, therefore, we ought to believe the same without doubting; yet not otherwise than as the Catholic Church hath interpreted and delivered the same... Wherefore, the witness also of the Catholic Church is, we believe, not of inferior authority to that of the Divine Scriptures. For one and the same Holy Spirit being the author of both, it is quite the same to be taught by the Scriptures and by the Catholic Church.

Okay, thanks.
But I was asking for opinions of how we should view the Bible (Such as, how do we make the distinction between literal or figurative stories or people).
« Last Edit: June 13, 2011, 09:37:31 PM by Scott » Logged

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« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2011, 12:50:43 AM »

Depends what you mean by inerrent.

There are minor contradictions throughout the text (for example, tell me how many angels were at the tomb, back it up with scripture. I'll be able to provide a contrary answer and back it up with scripture).

However, when viewed in the light of Holy Tradition it is without error on matters of faith and morals.
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« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2011, 07:48:40 AM »

Depends what you mean by inerrent.

There are minor contradictions throughout the text (for example, tell me how many angels were at the tomb, back it up with scripture. I'll be able to provide a contrary answer and back it up with scripture).

However, when viewed in the light of Holy Tradition it is without error on matters of faith and morals.

Pretty good answer. I can say that I have never heard any Orthodox Christian priest, apologist/theologian, or lay person directly disagree with any plain Bible verse or passage. Even the quite liberal Archbishop Lothar Puhalo has stated plainly that the EOC definitely believes in the inerrancy and infallibility of Holy Scripture.  To me the Church's stance on the Bible is not displayed through deep long winded debates or trying to "prove" to oneself that the Scriptures are true (e.g. Creation Science) and much more by simply accepting the Scriptures at face value without too much scrutiny, overall.

God Bless
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« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2011, 08:00:45 AM »

Depends what you mean by inerrent.

There are minor contradictions throughout the text (for example, tell me how many angels were at the tomb, back it up with scripture. I'll be able to provide a contrary answer and back it up with scripture).

However, when viewed in the light of Holy Tradition it is without error on matters of faith and morals.

Pretty good answer. I can say that I have never heard any Orthodox Christian priest, apologist/theologian, or lay person directly disagree with any plain Bible verse or passage. Even the quite liberal Archbishop Lothar Puhalo has stated plainly that the EOC definitely believes in the inerrancy and infallibility of Holy Scripture.  To me the Church's stance on the Bible is not displayed through deep long winded debates or trying to "prove" to oneself that the Scriptures are true (e.g. Creation Science) and much more by simply accepting the Scriptures at face value without too much scrutiny, overall.

God Bless

Maybe the question needs to go one step more. How do we relate to something that is inerrant?

Do we treat it mechanically like the owners manual to a car or do we understand it as God speaking to us and listen and are guided. Tradition is the record of how the people of God have been guided by Scripture...It's one organic whole.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2011, 08:01:13 AM by Marc1152 » Logged

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« Reply #6 on: June 14, 2011, 09:44:10 AM »

Okay, thanks.
But I was asking for opinions of how we should view the Bible (Such as, how do we make the distinction between literal or figurative stories or people).

My opinion would be that scripture is given for the purpose of telling us who God is, who we are, and how we relate to God. Using scripture for anything else would be a misuse in my opinion.

I think that God making man in His own image and likeness and placing him above all creation as the crowning point of His creation is more important than trying to put a literal time line on exactly how long ago God created the earth and flooded it. I think there is a tendency in groups who do this to extend that exact timeline from defining the exact moment of the beginning of time and measuring up until an exact date for the end of time is found.

Also the "need" for scriptural inerrancy comes from two sources. Islam needs literal scientific inerracy because they believe that a book, the koran, is the final revelation of God to man and not the man Jesus Christ, Who is the express image of the invisible God in Whom all things are revealed. The Protestant groups who believe in inerrancy "need" it because they believe scripture to be the sole authority on faith and practice, in order to be trusted in anything, it must be perfect in everything, which is in contrast to the traditional belief that the Church is the pillar of truth.

Something else to be taken into consideration, not necessarily universal among all Protestants but an example of what some believe. I once read in a literalist study bible in the notes for Luke chapter one, that when Christ was conceived in Mary's womb that it was done without using her egg or any other part of her as a human and that He was "placed" into her as something foreign to her. This is just plain not Christian. The study notes in my Orthodox Study Bible (granted they are just the study notes and can be imperfect) say about that passage that "the Lord Jesus took His flesh - His human nature - from Mary herself". The traditional belief found everywhere in the Church, while not even asking the question of science concerning the exact manner of "how", is that Christ took His flesh from Mary at His conception. It was through her that He received His human nature from us and truly united himself to us as a race. If Christ did not take his flesh from Mary, then He is not truly one of us and we have no way of inheriting the gift that He offers to us. Like I said, I don't think that this a universal teaching among Protestants, but it is something that can be found taught by some people who take a literal inerracny stance.
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« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2011, 02:02:44 PM »

But I was asking for opinions of how we should view the Bible (Such as, how do we make the distinction between literal or figurative stories or people).

The Scriptures as written do not contain errors, though they can be copied, translated, and interpreted erroneously.  The criteria of inerrancy is the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of truth, and what is needed to interpret the Holy Scriptures perfectly is divine illumination.  So, if one wants to understand the Scriptures properly, one must have a very pure heart that is free from the passions, and one must be participating in the grace-filled mysteries of the Orthodox Church.  In other words, one must be deified.  Otherwise, and especially in the beginning when we are struggling and are very far from deification, we should depend upon the commentaries and interpretations of the God-bearing Fathers and deified saints of our Church.  By reading their words, we come to understand the “mind of the Church”, which uplifts our understanding and makes us more capable of understanding the Scriptures through the “mind of the Church” (which is the mind of Christ) as we read them ourselves.  There is no special “key”, or criteria, or method, or exegesis for infallibly understanding the Scriptures aside from an understanding that has been set aflame by the Holy Spirit.  And, again, for this a very pure heart is needed.
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