Monthly Quotes 2012/2011

December 2012
“I hold that the doctrine of inerrancy is a product of the printing press age. The idea of a document without an error of any kind was simply foreign to the pre-printing press world. Paul, who I believe penned 2 Tim 3:16, didn’t think in these terms. Every copy of the Bible he had was different from each other. Further, he used both the LXX and the MT which, at times, are radically different from each other, and yet he considered them both to be divinely inspired scripture. Inerrancy is simply not feasible in a handwritten manuscript era. The idea that the original autographs were inerrant is irrelevant. We don’t have them.

The doctrine of inerrancy exists to serve the Systematic Theology impulse, which treats the Bible as a mine to be excavated for propositional ore. I find the whole enterprise to be idolatrous. The text doesn’t matter; the systematic theology, a purely human product, is what matters. There is a reason that the Bible does not contain systematic theology. It has law, stories, poems, and other people’s mail. So what about the idea of infallibility? Technically, inerrancy and infallibility are synonyms, but we use them to specify two different ideas. Inerrancy means no error of any kind, whereas infallibility means that in matters of faith and practice, the Bible is without error. That is my position.
What of inspiration? I hold that the Bible is the Word of God. I usually speak in terms of an incarnational model for this. In the same way that Jesus is totally God and totally man, so the Bible is totally divine and totally human. Most of the Bible’s authors were, in my opinion, totally unaware that they were writing scripture. The idea of scripture is a much later idea, probably no earlier than Ezra.

Lately, I’ve been struck by the oral nature of Torah. Though the Pentateuch states that Moses wrote down the Torah, it wasn’t widely disseminated in written form. The only copy mentioned, was to be kept in the ark of the covenant. What the contents of the “Torah” were is not at all clear. Just the legal material of the Pentateuch? The Five Books of Moses? If one wanted a Torah ruling, one went to a priest who gave a judgment. This was an oral experience. The priest, as far as we know, made no reference to a written copy of the law. As far as I can tell, he had no access to a written copy. It had been memorized or at least internalized. Bart Ehrman in the introduction to “Misquoting Jesus” tells the story of losing his faith in the inerrancy of the Bible and in its divine inspiration. It was when he encountered his first textual variant. At ORU, we deal with textual variants from day one. We teach and model that the Bible–despite the different versions and the differences between them, and the fact of textual variants–is the Word of God. That somehow, all these variants and versions all are the Word of God. It’s not Barthian, but it is something akin to it. The fact that we stress the literary (particularly the narrative) nature of the Bible’s message, frees us from the need to go digging for propositional nuggets. The irony is, that for inerrantists, the Bible is in the way. What matters is the propositional superstructure that we can erect from its raw materials. As charismatics, we stress the personal relationship with a loving God and the role the Bible plays in fostering, maintaining, and deepening that. It’s part of the process, but not the whole of the process.”

— Dr. Donald Vance

November 2012
“By the time you make the text relevant to Enlightenment Rationality, the text ceases to have transformative power.”

— Walter Brueggemann

October 2012
“This radical theocentricity, evident in his teaching and life, is at the very core of Jesus’ own notion of community. The messianic community is centered by its singular worship of and obedience to the merciful and righteous God, whose reign has been brought near in Messiah’s mission. Its life is contretemps, an idealized witness to alternative convictions about the God of the established order. It forgives those whom the society forgets; it welcomes those turned away by the “official” religion; it loves even the nation’s enemy; it shares equally in the experience of God’s promised šalôm; and it obeys the Torah as interpreted and incarnated by Messiah. While accommodating itself to changing social realities and to developing theological understanding, the post-Easter Church retains these same elements at the center of its life: The ekklēsia of God is called forth in worship to bear witness to God’s liberating grace which is disclosed in the new Exodus of Jesus Christ.”

— Robert W. Wall

August/September 2012
“The number of converts from the major liturgical traditions, like the Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, to evangelicalism confirms what Brad says. The sacramental process isn’t enough; there must be a call for personal faith, and this has been the emphasis in evangelicalism.”

— Scott McKnight, The King Jesus Gospel

June/July 2012
“At the end of the day, I conclude that none of this quartet of inscriptions can be declared the winner of the title “The Earliest Hebrew Inscription.” The script of the Qeiyafa Ostracon is Early Alphabetic, certainly not Hebrew and it contains no distinctive linguistic features that would allow us to define the language as Old Hebrew. Much the same can be said of the language of the Gezer Calendar. And the script of the Gezer Calendar falls nicely within the Phoenician script series. The Tel Zayit Abecedary is a fine Phoenician script that falls well within the Phoenician script series. Finally, the script of the Izbet Sartah Abecedary is Early Alphabetic.”

— Dr. Christopher A. Rollston

May 2012
“On this point, postmodernity and incarnational Christian faith are agreed. What is needed, therefore, is a translation of the Gospel that goes beyond conveying propositions – a translation that would concretize the Gospel in individual and communal shapes of living. Proclamations of the Gospel must be accompanied by performances that embody in new situations the wisdom and love of God embodied in the cross.”

— Kevin J. Vanhoozer

March/April 2012
“Brother, let me ask one thing more: has any man a right to look at other men and decide which is worthy to live?”

— Alyosha Pavlovitch

February 2012
“Part of the problem is that in the Western world we are deeply conditioned to choose the heroic over the saintly. We love our heroes best of all. Heroes are goal-oriented people of great capabilities who know how to make things happen. We admire their ability to get things done and shape the world according to their will. Saints on the other hand–especially to the American mind–seem quaint and marginal, occupying religious spheres on the periphery of the action. We want to be heroes; we don’t really want to be saints. The difference between the heroic vision and the saintly vision is a fundamentally different way of viewing the purpose of life.”

— Brian Zahnd from his book, Beauty Will Save the World
January 2012
“But worldviews normally come into sight, on a more day-today basis, in ‘sets of beliefs and aims’ which emerge into the open, which are more regularly discussed, and which in principle could be revised somewhat without revising the worldview itself. Modern Western materialists hold a worldview of a certain sort, which expresses itself in basic beliefs about society and economic systems, and in basic aims about appropriate employment and use of time.”

— N. T. Wright
September 2011
“Always, the story will curve back to the real place: the story of how humans living on the ridge about a third of the way between the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean have constantly been undermined by the overheated dreams of pilgrims who, age in and age out, arrive at the legendary gates with love in their hearts, the end of the world in their minds, and weapons in their hands.”

– James Carroll
August 2011
“But we should not miss the bold intellectual effort that is offered here, nor the believing passion which informs that intellectual effort. Israel is thinking a new thought. In the use of their faithful imagination, Israel’s theologians have articulated a new world in which to live. The shapers of the text are believers. They are concerned with theological reality. But they are not obscurantists. They employ the best intellectual data of the time. And they force the data to yield fresh insight. Their faith is genuinely ‘faith seeking understanding.’ Their gift to us is an alternative way of discerning reality.”

– Walter Brueggemann


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