Friday, October 30, 2009

More on Secular Biblical Studies

Apparently my previous post has upset a number of self-proclaimed atheists -- in particular Mr. Jim Linville -- who favors the notion of studying the Bible from a 'non-religious' worldview.  My proposal is simply that this is an illusion of secular humanism and has no relation to reality.  The reality is that even an atheistic reading of Scripture always reads with a religious perspective (albeit one that does not embrace the faith of the subject matter).  Atheism is indeed a religious worldview and humanity cannot help but read anything from a religious perspective.  Just because one does not read the Scripture from the perspective of faith in God does not mean that one is reading without faith in something religious.  For the atheist -- and many supposed 'purely historical' readings, etc. -- faith is placed in self and the abilities of humanity and a whole worldview is involved wherein humanity (and pure 'reason') sits as creator (?) and judge of all things.  (Sounds rather religious to me)

I was quite surprised at the response I have received ranging from one who doesn't think I get Mr. Linville's proposal to another that believes I have been misguided.  Mr. Linville has even proposed that I should either have not been permitted membership in the Society of Biblical Literature and should now consider looking elsewhere for societal membership.  Ad hominem attacks abound in his blog response to me, but are these merely to avoid the ultimate question?  What is the genuine motivation behind such a proposal of study?  What is the point?  If the Scriptures are indeed true (as I must confess they are) concerning the necessity of faith in the Lord, then does a 'secular' reading of Scripture result in all the greater judgment at the Last Day when the reader fails to carry out (even opposes) a faith-filled responsive reading? 

To study the Scriptures as only any other book is to study the Scriptures in disobedience and rebellion to the Lord of the Scriptures.  It is not being true to all religions (or non-religions?).  It is being true only to the self as exalted above the One who has inspired the Scriptures...and the end result is not a purely scholastic reading, but a purely idolatrous reading devoid of true knowledge (and of the One Who is THE Truth).

I praise the Lord that He has not left us to our own devices concerning the quest for truth, but has given us Himself (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) in the clear words of inspired and holy writ...and indeed He dwells in us through the Spirit that we might be conformed to the image of the Son to the praise and glory of the Father.  I confess that I do not 'study' the Bible in order to be a better 'Biblical scholar' (though I pray that is so as well), but in order to be a more faithful disciple of the Lord.  Where else can we go to find the "eternal words of life"?

15 comments:

  1. Thank you for the post. Good thoughts.
    See you there!

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  2. I think I address some of your questions right here.

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  3. John, thank you for taking the time to reply and for your links. I will read them over more thoroughly. While I would (apparently) disagree with your proposals, I still enjoy a good read.

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  4. Anonymous11:33 PM

    How very strange i had thought the bible was for saving sinners.And so to be saved a sinner would then need to read the bible.

    Rick you make it seem like there is actually something that needs to be hidden or protected or something.

    What really is your problem with this.

    Do you have such little faith in the bible standing on its own merit for whats the truth.

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  5. Anonymous,
    I'm not sure to what you are referring by saying, "Rick you make it seem like there is actually something that needs to be hidden or protected."???? Perhaps if you clarify what you are referring to I might better be able to answer.

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  6. It sounds like you want them to believe and you think they want you to quit believing. They have every right to study the scripture "like any other book". We cannot, in a free society, forbid them from publishing the studies they publish. Even though such studies will always be wrong, because founded on the basis of wrong beliefs about the material, their academic arguments may be sound. They might even make some observations that teach us a thing or two.

    If they wanted to banish confessional presuppositions from professional scholarship, they would be shouted down in a heartbeat. If they want to gather unto themselves, where is the problem?

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  7. excuse me. I meant "their academic arguments may be valid." By definition, founded on wrong beliefs would make those same arguments very UNsound.

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  8. Bill,
    Thanks for your comments...I agree. I am not questioning their freedom (if this may indeed be called such) to organize the proposed group or to publish their ideas, etc., or even that they may in fact be making some statements which may be true. I am actually questioning the motivations of such a movement. Why should someone desire to do so given the nature of the book and of the One revealed in the book?

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  9. Hey, if you don't know, you don't know. You know?

    :)

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  10. Anonymous2:23 PM

    If the bible is full of fact the truth will surely stand on its own merit.As will most any book including books of other faiths.

    Quote "To study the Scriptures as only any other book is to study the Scriptures in disobedience and rebellion to the Lord of the Scriptures."

    If this is fact then the same should apply when reading the Koran or books on Hinduism or scientology.

    Would you also suggest people should only ever study these other faith books,if they already have full faith in them?.Im sure by your account plenty of christians must have also studied the Koran in disobedience to Muhammad.

    People study many books.Im sure there is times when they start their study of certain books with much doubt,yet im sure some times this doubt diminishes when the reader realizes the factual evidences contained within.

    Maybe its more your own lack of faith that is the real problem Rick.If christians have so much faith in the god of the holy bible,and faith of evidences written about within the book.

    I can see no good reason why they wouldnt all joyfully welcome any study with open arms.

    This is why i had asked if something was needing to be hidden and covered up.Hope this explains better.

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  11. Anonymous,
    The difference is that only one book leads to the One who gives everlasting life. Only one book is the revelation of the One True God of all. Only one book demands absolute obedience and speaks the truth in all matters. While there are other books that state as much, there is only one that is true. We are not free to either take or leave the Scriptures without endangering our very being. The Scriptures certainly speak for themselves, but with the voice of the Spirit of God who convicts of sin, righteousness and judgment.

    If all religions (and religious books) are equal then you are possibly correct, but if the Bible is the only true revelation of God pointing to the ultimate revelation in Jesus Christ, then the Bible stands as the only standard and all other religious books are judged already by Him and the book which alone clearly reveals Him. It would not be my lack of faith in the Scriptures that demands that it not be read as any other book...it is my faith in the Lord of the Scriptures that demands that it not be treated as any other.

    And I'm still not quite sure what you are asking about something being "hidden" and "covered up" unless it is because you seem to think there is some reason to conceal something about the Scriptures. I believe the Scriptures should be embraced and confessed openly as the revelation of the Lord. The Scriptures clearly point to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ in order to be saved. Do you think there is some reason to question the authority or integrity of the Scriptures (and by default...to question the Inspirer of the Scriptures)?

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  12. Anonymous7:29 PM

    No Rick it was the problem you seemed to have with certain peoples study of the bible,that did tend at the time to make me wonder if maybe there is something that you or others feel needs to infact be hidden within.I was just thinking why else what other reason would anyone likely have, to seem to be so worried at all by certain types of study being done?.

    "The difference is that only one book leads to the One who gives everlasting life. Only one book is the revelation of the One True God of all"

    Unless somebody reads them all how does one then be quite sure which book leads to the everlasting life,knowing it to be of the one true god of all?.I dont see any real difference,i see what at the moment to me seems can only be a little bit of a biased opinion on your part.No doubt im sure maybe you dont feel so.

    Although i see you do say"If all religions (and religious books) are equal",so maybe you do see how the final decision should maybe be better left to all those who study.

    "Only one book demands absolute obedience and speaks the truth in all matters"

    How does one know this for sure without study of all faith books first?

    "We are not free to either take or leave the Scriptures without endangering our very being"

    This may even be right and seem fact to you,but shouldnt everyone else be able to study and decide this themselves?.Surely you dont think dictatorships are the will of God for this earth, where then is this free will god gave?.

    "It would not be my lack of faith in the Scriptures that demands that it not be read as any other book...it is my faith in the Lord of the Scriptures that demands that it not be treated as any other."

    But does God demand you then demand of others also, that they all simply believe as you do. Like we all exist in some dictatorship?.Would he honestly wish they study less,and just believe by your command?.

    Where then is the free will and honest true conviction of belief?.

    I do understand your honesty of feelings and love of god Rick, that point is quite unquestionable.

    But do you now also see how it may have seemed to some, when your faith seemed to be so set fast mostly in a type of control and demand. Showing sign of wishing to if possible thwart certain people to have rights of free will to study religious books with freedom.

    Im just trying to explain how it may have slightly seemed to some other folks thats all.

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  13. Anonymous,
    By your reasoning, we cannot rule out that unicorns, leprichans and fairies don't exist, nor can anyone be actually an atheist (since they can never know without ALL knowledge that there is definitively no God anywhere of any kind). It is not necessary to have absolute knowledge of everything (in any field), before one can make pronouncements about truth (especially when Truth is a person who has revealed Himself as such and as the Lord and God of all).

    If one truly believes what is written in the Bible then one must recognize and act upon the call to declare the Lord as the Only Lord and they only way of salvation. This is not a matter of anyone conforming to my thinking, it is a matter of conformity to the Truth. Do you think it alright for folks to believe that African Americans are less than human...or (less nefariously) that the earth is flat? Truth is true and to leave someone in a lie (especially when that lie affects every aspect of life now and forever) is tantamount to hatred and disobedience to the very person who is Truth. He confronts humanity with the need for Himself. I am not concerned with my 'control' over people (which would only destroy them anyways), but with their surrender to the Lord Himself (as I also must continue to do).

    Thank you for your comments (even though 'anonymous' comments are not preferred :-).

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Your comments and questions are always appreciated. :-)