Friday, June 19, 2015

The Possibility and Implications of Distorting Divine Scripture


If the history of Christianity demonstrates anything it demonstrates that the phenomenon of twisting the divine revelation that has historically come to be known as Christian Scripture, is a very real possibility. For the true Christian, nothing is more important than a right understanding of the divine revelation. Yet, over the centuries, the historical evidence is irrefutable. Wrong interpretations of Scripture are possible.
Vern Poythress notes, “In the course of that long history, Christians have committed plenty of horrendous sins and made ghastly mistakes that discredit the faith. Moreover, those antagonistic to the God of the Bible have, over a period of several centuries, produced a whole marketplace of culturally fashionable stratagems for evading God. Some are incredibly sophisticated and awesomely complex. They include ways of immunizing ourselves from the Bible and its message. So we have plenty of ways to hide our spiritual nakedness.” [Poythress, God Centered Biblical Interpretation]
The use of words is intended to do something. The motive that leads to the human behavior of communicating resides within the communicator. E.D. Hirsch Jr. says, “There is no magic land of meaning outside human consciousness. Whenever meaning is connected to words, a person is making the connection, and the particular meanings he lends to them are never the only legitimate ones under the norms and conventions of his language.” [Hirsch, Jr. Validity In Interpretation] In the case of Scripture, which itself has a secondary as well as a primary author, the intended meaning is located in the human author as the secondary author and God, the Holy Spirit, who is the primary author. There is no other literary work that parallels the Christian Scriptures. For this reason, interpreting the text of Scripture is unlike other interpretive enterprises. It demands skills that no other text demands.
In Mark 7:13, Jesus accused the religious of His day of invalidating the word of God by means of their tradition. The Greek word translated invalidated is ἀκυρόω (akuroo). Louw-Nida classifies this word in the semantic domain of power, or force. It is defined as to refuse to recognize the force or power of something—‘to invalidate the authority of, to reject, to disregard.’ Jesus is accusing the religious of his day of handling Scripture in such a way as to challenge its authority, its power, and its force.
Paul writes to a young Timothy and provides explicit instruction regarding the Scriptures, saying, If anyone advocates a different doctrine and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited and understands nothing. (1 Tim. 6:3-4a) Paul in numerous places just like this, emphatically points out the possibility of error concerning the Scriptures. Here, he warns against teaching anything that is different from what should be taught. Hence, the possibility of teaching something that should not be taught exists. I realize that to many of you, this much seems obvious. I have a purpose in stating what is plainly obvious and soon enough you will see what it is. I hope that the detractors are following the line of reasoning I am putting forth.
Peter also made this point very clearly, writing, and regard the patience of our Lord as salvation; just as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given him, wrote to you, as also in all his letters, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which the untaught and unstable distort, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures, to their own destruction. (2 Peter 3:15-16) The Greek word strebloo means to distort the meaning of something in communicating to others. It belongs to the semantic domain of ‘interpret, mean, explain.’ Clearly, Peter thought that there were some who were misinterpreting Paul and not only this, they were destroying themselves because of they mishandled Paul and the rest of the Scripture.
In conclusion then, we have clear and incontrovertible evidence that it is possible to distort the sacred Scriptures. In so doing, we are not merely distorting the intended meaning of finite men, but rather, of holy men who were moved by the Holy Spirit. In essence, to distort the Scriptures is to take words out of or put words in God’s mouth that he has or has not spoken. Since God’s word has perlocutionary intent, whatever effect God intended by the speech act, we nullify. Indeed, to misinterpret Scripture is to fight against God.
We must now come to the place where we attempt to understand the implications of the possibility of distorting Scripture. Since we are warned time and again by Jesus, Paul, Peter, Jude, and John as well as other NT writers not to distort Scripture, we can infer that it is possible to rightly interpret Scripture. The only logically possible way for one not to distort Scripture is for them to interpret it correctly. Additionally, if it is possible to rightly interpret Scripture, then it is possible to ascertain the intention of the human and divine authors of Scripture. That seems rather obvious at this point. After all, imagine if we applied to our normal every day conversation, some of the standards we apply to interpreting Scripture. Communication would be impossible and so too would any hope of progress in any meaningful sense of the word progress.
What we are seeking when we interpret Scripture is the true meaning intended by the authors of Scripture. After all, only if something has a true meaning can one distort it. If proposition A has no truth-value, then it is impossible to distort proposition A. If distortion is possible, then truth-value must, by definition of distortion, exist. In other words, truth is the logical necessity for distortion. The existence of true meaning then is the necessary condition for distortion. Without truth-value, distortion could not exist. Philosophically speaking, the existence of truth and error says nothing about the possibility of knowledge. However, at this point we must point out what seems obvious to even the casual reader of Scripture and that is that Scripture assumes that knowledge is possible by the very fact that it commands that we must avoid distortion. We would say it like this: if distortion, then truth. Distortion occurs, therefore truth. No truth, therefore, no distortion. If distortion, then truth, and if truth, then knowledge. Therefore, if distortion, then knowledge. To put it in biblical terms, if Scripture can be distorted, then it must be true. And if it is true and it can be distorted, then it must be knowable. If distortion exists, then knowledge is possible. Otherwise, it would be impossible to know distortion exists if knowledge were not possible.  
What exactly do we mean when we say that a particular proposition contains truth-value? When I say that meaning has been or can be distorted, I am referring to something very specific. But is the reference to some correspondence theory or truth? Do I mean the proposition does not correspond to the reality that is there? Or, do I mean that the proposition does not cohere within a particular system? Perhaps I mean that the proposition just doesn’t work. It isn’t practical to hold it as true. This points us up to the need for a Christian theory of truth. With each major theory of truth, there is almost always some element of truth-value. On the other hand, each theory in and of itself falls short of the mark. Saying that something corresponds with reality only begs the question of how reality is being defined. To say that something coheres only creates questions around the system that it coheres within. And to say that it works begs the question of what one means by “works.”
Where then is truth anchored and what is the Christian theory of truth? Truth itself is anchored in the mind of the self-contained ontological Triune God of Scripture. Truth exists in the mind of God. To distort truth is to misrepresent the very thought of God. How can we know God’s thoughts? This is an epistemological question. Hence, the epistemic claim that distortion is possible is supported by my strong modal claim that truth resides in the mind of God. From this we see that God is the necessary precondition for the possibility of distorting the Scriptures. If God were the necessary precondition for the possibility of distorting the Scriptures, then we would follow that claim with the claim that sin is the sufficient condition for distorting the Scriptures.
What does all this mean? For more than a few weeks now, I have been dealing with two men who seem to want to overthrow historic Christian orthodoxy while at the same time employing techniques that would lead one to believe that the interpretive process is so fluid that just about any understanding of the text is acceptable. I should say, for some reason, any understanding of the text that falls outside the historic one is acceptable. The gay Christian issue has been our most contentious subject, as it seems to be the burning issue for the moment.
There are numerous and sophisticated methods open for modern man in order for him to distort the meaning of Scripture. The necessary existence of truth in the mind of God and the presence of sin in the heart of man provide both the necessary and sufficient condition for such distortion. On the other hand, if distortion is possible, and the accurate interpretation of Scripture is possible, then not just any method or any interpretation will do. This means that interpreting Scripture is indeed a serious matter. If Scripture is God speaking, God revealing what is in His mind regarding a particular issue, then misrepresenting God’s communication to us is naturally a serious matter.
Finally, I should say a quick word about figurative language and how it is used in Scripture. For some reason, men like Dan Trabue think the employment of figurative language means that we cannot take those texts literally where it is employed. That understanding is patently false. One example used was the view that Gen. 6:5 is figurative language because here the human heart is described as having intents and thoughts and that these intentions and thoughts were continually evil. To claim that the use of the word heart is figurative here would be anachronistic. The Hebrew use of the word lb is not normally employed to mean the physical organ itself. Instead, the ancient Hebrew thought of the heart as the essential person, mind, will, and emotion. For our purposes, we may classify this use as somewhat figurative but not as cleanly as some would like. And it is not clear that Moses would have actually thought that he was using figurative language when he wrote of the account. Additionally, the literal meaning of the text remains unchanged. The essence of the individuals at this time continually engaged in evil. They had altogether abandoned all moral behavior.
Dan has also attempted to interpret the Scripture’s teaching on original sin as non-literal language, claiming that babies are not born sinners. According to Dan, this is figurative language. What kind of figurative language is it? Dan does not tell us. But if we use Scripture as a whole to interpret Scripture individually, we understand that we are all born into sin, with sin natures, from the very beginning captive to sin. Paul says that we are all by nature children of wrath. (Eph. 2:3) The entire NT employs the use of the term “born again” to describe what every individual must experience in order to enter the Kingdom of God. The reason that we must be born from above is because our birth from below is into sin. Hence, that children are born sinners, that they do not become sinners along the way is clear. Dan’s views on this front are the views of the heresy known as ancient Pelagianism: A heresy that Augustine identified and debunked 1600 years ago.           

In summary, I claim that because truth necessarily exists in the mind of God that distortion of Scripture is a real possibility. And because distortion is a real possibility, accurately handling the Word of Truth is also a real possibility. Paul issues this very command. All this to say that how Christians view and interpret Scripture is to a very large degree indicative of the genuineness of their claim to faith in Christ. Because of this, the subject of interpreting Scripture is one in which every Christian will have to become more competent. The level of hermeneutical acumen within Christianity must change if we are to be good soldiers carrying on a good campaign doing our part to proclaim and defend revealed truth.

24 comments:

  1. So, Ed, let's set aside again the many, many distortions of my actual positions in favor of your false claims - suffice to say that you do not rightly interpret my words, and what does that say about your ability to interpret Scripture?? - but let's set those false claims aside for the time, since you never want to deal with them anyway.

    The rational question I have for you is, it seems you are saying that if people of good will unintentionally misunderstand ANYTHING in the Bible, they are "twisting" Scripture and doomed to be punished for that. Is that what you are saying? If so, what if, then, YOU Ed, are mistaken on some point(s)? Are you twisting Scripture? Is that a sign, then, that you are lost? That you are evil or perverted?

    Or is it a sign that you are human and only know in part?

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    1. One begins with a true Church Dan with godly men who are regenerated by the Spirit. Those of us who have been born by the Spirit can recognize them.

      Step two, the Holy Spirit and His work in those men serve to help true believers who are truly interested in God's thoughts, God's law, understand the biblical text.

      Even in the NT, there were false apostles, false elders, false prophets and false teachers. They were identified repeatedly. Therefore, it must be something more than just one's own subjective principles that serve to guard from distorting the text.

      The religious that Jesus encountered and most of the false teaches Paul dealt with were wolves and heretics and Scripture is unambiguous on this point.

      In Acts Apollos is pulled aside due to his lack of knowledge and understanding and he is given some very useful help from Priscilla and Aquila. That is how God works in His own. Of course we must recognize that they were in a very unique period of transition.

      Some error is related to things like, say a secret rapture which I do not quite hold to. I could be wrong. Scripture does not provide the same sort of evidence for it that it does for creation, the fall, redemption, Christ's nature, sin, etc.

      Two things are clear: some distortion leads to destruction. What kind of distortion would do that? Well, heresy would be one of them. To deny the binding nature of God's Word, Scripture, the Bible, over His people would be one of them. By doing so, you replace God with your own subjective opinions and even subject God's Word to your finite authority. It is not only outrageous, it is blasphemy. And you have done it repeatedly and in plain view. You want some proof. It was Aristotle who said, "It is the mark of a foolish man to think that everything can be proved." And you foolishly attempt to place science over theological matters like original sin, a field over which it has no right and no say. In cases like this, science is impotent. It has nothing to say about original sin or the sin nature of human infants.

      The problem with men like you Dan is that you pretend that you are lacking material in order to arrive at God's thoughts on matters. Gay sex is one of them. Yet, God has provided you with clear teachings in Scripture and with regenerated scholars and pastors for centuries who have all held the same view on many of these subjects. And you come along with your absurd, self-refuting principles, and rather than submit to Christ and to His leaders, you adopt your own version of the Christian story. You reject the God of the OT because you think He is immoral. You twist the plain historical narrative of Scripture because you don't like a God who executes godless nations, man, woman, child, and infant. Your interpretation abandons historic Christian orthodoxy. It springs from outside Christendom. It springs from outside the Church. As a result, it is deadly, spiritually destructive, hostile to God.

      You have admitted that you do NOT like the God of the OT. You have claimed that God would never subject a 16 year old to eternal punishment. Such a God is unloving and immoral in your view. Well, imagine being wrong about that. That means that you have judged God. You have placed your morality over God's morality and indicted God Himself.

      I have little sympathy for you Dan because you likely left a Church where interpretation was safe, much closer to the truth for one that does it's own thing. For the queer thing. Your actions in that regard are not just regrettable and unfortunate; they are detestable and damnable. And you are culpable for your actions sir.

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    2. Now, all this being said, your own position is self-refuting. You cannot disagree with me about the matter of distortion without also believing that distortion is possible. After all, your view is that I am guilty of distortion. But your principles seem to imply that it is either not possible or not a big deal and you are quite sure that it is either not possible or not a big deal and yet you think I am doing what is not possible or you think that my understanding is in fact a big deal. After all, I believe that practicing homosexuals will suffer eternal judgment along with those who praise their wicked behavior. That is a pretty big deal about which you think I am wrong and that the Church has distorted Scripture on the subject for 2,000 years. A view is self-refuting when its principles are turned on its claims and they fail to stand up and provide the necessary coherence demanded by basic logic.

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    3. When will I ever learn? You are NOT interested in the truth. You are only interested in what you desperate WANT to truth to be. You and your new interpretations of basic Christian dogma have arisen outside the Church of Christ, outside the oversight of godly elders, going against what has been received as Christian truth from the beginning. There is nothing in you that wants the God who killed men, women, children, and infants in the OT to be YOUR God. You want a different deity. And you have convinced yourself that the New is radically different from the Old. Like Marcion you rip it out or like Valentinus you cleverly perform your pagan magic on it so that you may hide your sin, so that you will not appear blind and naked. But you are blind, naked, and ignorant. Return to the Church of your youth and beg the pastor for guidance. Put your arrogance away and simply receive the plain truth of Scripture.

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    6. Many of you are wondering how we might "prove" to Dan that he is a false convert or pseudo Christian. And many of you have unwittingly taken up a more rationalistic approach to solving this problem. I am sad to inform you that no such proof or persuasive can be offered that will result in changing Dan's mind. One of the deficiencies in modern Christian training and discipleship is the failure to understand the role of divine agency in persuasion. Men like Dan think that introducing the Holy Spirit into the conversation opens the floodgates to extreme subjectivism. Those who are filled with the Spirit and have exercised their senses of discernment know better.

      Dan's response indicates that he completely missed my argument. And I am not surprised in the least. Dan will only come to divine truth by divine work on his heart, his person if you will. Unless his eyes are opened by God, who only can open them, then they will remain closed. I can offer Dan no proof that he can take away and through autonomous rational contemplation, conclude that I am right. This explains why he continues to chase his tell and run in circles.

      He thinks he can trust his heart, which a Christian will tell you is his first mistake. We cannot trust our hearts because we know that the human heart is desperately wicked, spiritually dead, and very deceptive. The only thing we can trust is Scripture.

      Notice that Dan has never offered a positive defense of his views. He only talks about how my views are wrong and his approach is from a distinctively skeptical side of things. He thinks the possibility of wrongly interpreting Scripture makes it impossible to know if we have rightly interpreted it. And then he goes on to disagree with what is essentially the historical Christian method of interpreting Scripture. While trying to hold that traditional conclusions are unreliable, he must affirm that his understanding is reliable. Otherwise, how is it possible for him to charge traditional Christianity with distortion on issues like gay sex, the God of the Old Testament, eternal judgment, the sin nature, etc.? His view is not only implausible, it is downright absurd and what is amazing is that he cannot see the reductio in which he lives.

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  2. Dan's comments: Are you finished making up a strawman full of false claims about my position - are you finished demonstrably bearing false witness - and prepared to let me defend myself against your false claims and slander?

    Do you deny that you think the stories of God in the OT are NOT literal because this would make God an immoral monster? Like when He ordered genocide, instructing the Hebrews to kill man, woman, child, and infant?

    Do you deny that you think it would immoral for God to send a 16 year old to hell for eternity on the ground that punishment does fit the crime? That it would make God immoral and unjust?

    Do you deny that all human infants are natural born sinners, hence, effectively denying the basic doctrine of original sin?

    Do you deny that you have claimed open that the Bible is NOT binding and that it makes NO claim to be binding or authoritative?

    Do you deny that you affirm gay sex as being acceptable before God and that homosexuals do NOT need redemption from gay sex because there is nothing wrong with it?

    Are you prepared to answer questions?

    I think I am prepared.

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  3. "it is possible to distort the sacred Scriptures." (Ed) YES INDEED. And this takes us back to the place where I joined this "conversation". Gordon Wenham in the book you refused to interact with, Ed.
    "I think we need a more nuanced characterization of the genre of Genesis, which I termed protohistory. Otherwise, we may be forced to conclude that Genesis is trying to relate history but not succeeding, which would be a rather negative conclusion." (p.62)
    Scripture can indeed be distorted. But specious arguments from a misunderstanding of how languages work may not help the discussion about what scripture actually MEANS. And resorting to name-calling certainly doesn't.

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  5. Have you not considered that Gordon's philosophy, which clearly comes through even in the quote you provide, is at the center of his hermeneutics? You need to stop treating linguistics as if it is akin to mathematics.

    Second, lexicons could not exist apart from how we make use of words. Your hostility toward lexical use is bizarre to say the least.

    Notice that Gordon's reason for classifying Genesis as protohistory is not related to the grammar of the text in any way. There is another reason for his decision. I would argue that his reason is philosophical, not linguistic.

    In response to that decision, most scholars, that is, regenerate scholars, would respond that we must understand the genre of Genesis the way Moses and his audience would have understood it. And as it look at it, taking it at face value, we have no reason for Gordon's device. As we look at how the remaining biblical authors take Genesis, we have even less than no reason to take it as anything but an attempt by Moses to relate simple history.

    Finally, concerning Gen. 6:5, my reason for rejecting purely figurative language in that text is simple. The most common use of the word "heart" is how Moses employs it here. While it may be figurative for our culture to make that sort of use of the English word "heart," that is not at all the case with the Hebrew word lb. Unless the word is commonly used for something else, and then employed differently, it seems more difficult to understand it as a figurative device. Moses seems to employ it in its most common use at that time and this is why there is good reason to hold that any figurative element, if there is one, is diminished.

    Nevertheless, figurative or not, the expression depicts a literal situation; one so serious that God destroys humanity excepting 8 souls.

    There are plenty of talented, highly educated, unregenerate men employing incredibly sophisticated techniques to cover the nakedness of their sin before God. That Scripture contains numerous literary devices is without controversy. But to use modern techniques to nullify Scripture under the guise of scholarship is no less serious a sin than the vipers Jesus encountered in His own day. Scripture was not written for the scholar, the highly educated, or the most intelligent among us. Since Scripture was written for the least among us, there can be no rational argument made that it is beyond comprehension apart from impressive academic lettered men out there, that does not end up distorting the very purpose of the text it claims to admire.

    Balance is an essential element in biblical exegesis. Reckless use of lexicons involves not only the failure to acknowledge that most words have a range of meanings or uses, as well as the failure to make use of the tool altogether. Both practices are poor exegesis and both practices lead to deficient understandings of the text which then leads to poor thinking and very often, ungodly behavior.

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  6. You need to stop treating linguistics as if it is akin to mathematics." Ed, when and how did I do that?
    " lexicons could not exist apart from how we make use of words. Your hostility toward lexical use is bizarre to say the least" Ed, how is saying that there is more involved in inferring meaning from a sentence than looking at the individual words used in that sentence "hostility" to using lexicons? I am not hostile to Louw-Nida. I just wonder, Ed, what YOU understand by "semantic domains"?
    "I would argue that his reason is philosophical, not linguistic." OK, Ed. But so what? Your understanding is as much philosophical as Wenham's. And you still haven't engaged his discussion.
    "we have even less than no reason to take it as anything but an attempt by Moses to relate simple history" Ed, seriously!? Moses was simply writing a diary??! I think you should consider Wenham's discussion.
    "my reason for rejecting purely figurative language} Ed, what's wrong or deficient with 'figurative' language? I have not said anything about the REALITY of what figurative language is used for. Again, Ed, have you considered how languages use metaphor? It seems to be more than 'flowery bits' around the edges, doesn't it?
    "Nevertheless, figurative or not, the expression depicts a literal situation" Ed, consistently with what I have always claimed here I would say a "real" rather than 'literal' situation. Of course the situation is serious, It comes down to what the writer (and God) were intending the readers to understand.
    "Scripture was not written for the scholar, the highly educated, or the most intelligent among us" I completely agree and have spent my life committed to that.

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    1. 1. I have said repeatedly that your position on word meanings and the lexicon is an exaggeration.

      2. I have never argued that words have meanings apart from context; only that they do not lose their range of possible meaning apart from context.

      3. Semantic domains represent the hierarchical relationship between words. Insects and birds would belong to the same semantic domain but would be classified as sub-domains respectively.

      4. I have never argued that am without a philosophy. But my philosophical approach would be different from Wenham's. My philosophy is the product of my theology, which is the product biblical exegesis, which is the product of the regeneration of the Holy Spirit. For the Christian, there are three elements that must be present if the hermeneutical project is to succeed: faith, reason, science. If the art and science of hermeneutics are not grounded in biblical faith, the results will range from error to outright disaster.

      5. You reaction "Moses was simply writing a diary?" tells me a great deal about your own philosophical presuppositions. If we talk to you boys for very long at all, you always show your true colors sooner or late.

      6. The best way to view the OT record is through the lens of the NT authors where possible. You liberal chaps seem to forget that the OT record is a supernatural record with supernatural aims. And the only supernatural commentary we have on that record is the NT.

      The totality of evidence contained in Scripture demands that we understand Moses intending to relate the history of the beginnings all the way down to God's choice of Israel and His establishment of the great Old Covenant along the promise of the New Covenant what was to come. We really have no good reason to understand the Mosaic record differently than actual history. For those that do, most of them are motivated by an uncritical acceptance of pseudo-science and specifically, evolutionary theory. After all, the scholar is more interested in his reputation among his peers than he is the truth, except of course in those rare occasions where the scholar happens to be regenerated. And those are the fellows whose commentaries I usually find myself calling on for education and understanding.

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  7. Ed, I would simply make the following observations:
    1 How is my understanding of word meaning an exaggeration? You still have not interacted with it.
    2. What do you actually mean in #2?
    3. Don't semantic domains represent a network relationship rather than a hierarchical one? Louw-Nida would seem to disagree with your view of words, semantic domains and range of meaning. I am wondering then why you referred to their lexicon?
    4. So where does Wenham stand?
    5.It was you who said Moses was writing "simple history" -- or in my reading of YOUR statement "a diary". Please read my comment again and maybe investigate what Wenham said. What are my true colours?
    6. I thought we were talking about OT genre and how the first readers would understand that? What do you mean by "liberal chaps" here?
    7. "the beginnings all the way down to God's choice of Israel and His establishment of the great Old Covenant along the promise of the New Covenant what was to come." Why do you think, Ed, that this is not what Wenham (and I) are referring to as well?

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    1. I haven't the time nor the inclination to continue a dispute for the sake of what seems to be disputing. I provided what I thought was at least interesting insight into my interpretation of Gen. 6:5 and how the Hebrews used lb and why it may be anachronistic to classify that use is purely figurative.

      I cannot help but wonder if a proper understanding of 2 Tim. 2:14 and 1 Tim. 6:4 could be applied to this conversation.

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    2. Before I continue any other discussions with you, I want to know more about who you are. I believe you remain anonymous for a reason.

      1. What is your opinion of the Bible? Is it the Word of God, fully inspired, inerrant, reliable, authoritative in all it teaches?

      2. Of the great confessions in the history of the Church, which one most accurately describes you and in which components would you hold a different position?

      3. Do you affirm gay marriage in any way under any circumstances as a Christian?

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  8. Ed, in your original post you wrote:
    "The Greek word translated invalidated is ἀκυρόω (akuroo). Louw-Nida classifies this word in the semantic domain of power, or force. It is defined as to refuse to recognize the force or power of something—‘to invalidate the authority of, to reject, to disregard.’ Jesus is accusing the religious of his day of handling Scripture in such a way as to challenge its authority, its power, and its force."
    Your argument here would seem to be built on a dictionary definition of a single Greek word and that dictionary is Louw-Nida. I suggest your use of Louw-Nida is based on a misunderstanding of semantic domains. If you think such discussion is irrelevant, so be it.
    Further, you seem unwilling to engage in discussion on Gordon Wenham's recent essay on Genesis where he considers its genre. Yet your post that we are commenting on is about distorting scripture, so surely genre is crucial in the discussion. Are your readers then to assume you are not really interested in discussing your post? What then was its purpose?
    If I called myself BruceS would that satisfy you? If I said that I gladly affirm the 1974 Lausanne affirmation of faith, would that satisfy you? If I said that I read scripture according to the Nicene Creed would that satisfy you? I don't see how your #3 is relevant to this conversation (and NO, you can't take from this that I affirm gay marriage).

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    1. I have asked you for some very basic information about yourself. You seem to be unwilling to be transparent in your views which is itself telling.

      What you need to show is how my use of LN results in poor exegesis, and consequently a misunderstanding of this text. You seem to want to keep the conversation in the abstract. So, why don't you provide an example of exactly HOW I am misusing LN and how that misuse results in an improper understanding of Christ's rebuke of the Pharisees and scribes in this case.

      There are 27 Greek words that fall within the semantic domain of power or force in LN. This particular word kuroo who range of meaning is confirm, ratify, make valid, etc., has the alpha privative and carries the range of meaning "to invalidate, to make void." There are three related words in this subgroup, the third being prokuroo which means to confirm beforehand. If you read Galatians 3:15,17, all three words are employed by Paul here. Help me understand what exactly I am not understanding about LN.

      Genre analysis is an important step in biblical hermeneutics. If you want to represent Wenham's views in your arguments, be my guest. I have no inclination to chase your Wenham rabbit any more than I do to chase the Dawkins rabbit tossed at me by my recent interaction with an uncritical atheist.

      The Nicene Creed does not address the church's position on Scripture. When it was expanded at Constantinople 381, it still did not express the church's position on Scripture.

      The 1974 Lausanne Covenant is cooperative statement mostly concerning the unity of the church on world evangelization.

      When someone goes out of their way to be ambiguous, there is almost always a reason and they typically do not want that reason to come out.

      #3 is very relevant to discussions now. Just like the gays are going after Christian businesses and shutting them down, Christians must turn the tables and insist that those within our group make positive affirmations about the gospel, which includes divine law, which contains prohibitions against gay behavior. In short, your refusal to affirm God's clear and pronounced condemnation of homosexual behavior is proof that you reject the Christian ethic. Either answer all three questions directly, or I am afraid my dialogue with you must end.

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  9. "There are 27 Greek words that fall within the semantic domain of power or force in LN. [Comment: So? How is this relevant to understanding what a NT text means?] This particular word kuroo who [sic.] range of meaning is confirm, ratify, make valid, etc., [No, that is a gloss. A gloss is not a range of meaning.] has the alpha privative and [sic. 'which'?] carries the range of meaning "to invalidate, to make void." [Again, glosses, not range of meaning] There are three related words in this subgroup, the third being prokuroo which means to confirm beforehand. [this is a point at which you are misunderstanding Louw-Nida, Ed. The network that Louw-Nida are SUGGESTING, Ed, includes the whole 27 words. Why privilege these three?] If you read Galatians 3:15,17, all three words are employed by Paul here. [Again, so?] Help me understand what exactly I am not understanding about LN." Pointing to individual words is not doing exegesis.

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    2. Final comment because you refuse to tell me what you are really about.

      When an author has several terms available to him, his DECISION becomes all the more important. Additionally, a semantic domain is NOT a collection of synonyms. The semantic domain of Ethical and Moral Behavior has a number of sub-domains. Within that sub-domain, sexual misbehavior itself has 12 different words. An author will select the word from among the 12 that best fits what he is trying to communicate. Porneuo is a word that deals with any kind of sexual immorality while arsenokoites is used strictly for the male role of the homosexual act and malakos is the passive or female role of the homosexual act.

      The word that is used reflects the author's decision and can be very helpful in interpreting the text, the goal of which is to understand the author's intention in writing it.

      In this case, the Matthew and Paul could have chosen katargeo since it is in the same semantic domain. But that choice would have carried a very different meaning. In that choice, the Word of God would have been viewed as having been truly caused NOT to function. But by choosing this word, it has no effect on the Scripture itself, but rather on them. It would be the difference between literally ontological invalidation and relative functional invalidation. It is one thing to invalidate a law legally and quite another to invalidate it for yourself by choosing to ignore it in your behavior. In that sense you are disregarding it. The word Matthew and Paul used has this latter nuance and their choice is significant. The gay Christian movement is guilty of this sort of behavior just like the religious hypocrites of Christ's day were.

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  10. "Additionally, a semantic domain is NOT a collection of synonyms" Ed, you're right. A semantic domain is not a collection of synonyms -- especially for Louw and Nida because they are skeptical that synonyms exist! Please READ THEIR INTRODUCTION. It might add to your education!

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    1. I think what LN actually says is that "complete synonyms" PROBABLY never occur. That is a much weaker statement that yours which would lead one to believe that LN makes a stronger claim. I think their perspective is very interesting.

      Is the Bible the Word of God?

      What do you think about the 1689 London Baptist Confession or the WCF?

      Can one be gay and be Christian at the same time?

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    2. I am considering a brief interaction with Wenham over the next week or so.

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What Is Love? 1 Cor. 13:4

Ἡ ἀγάπη μακροθυμεῖ , χρηστεύεται ˸ ἡ ἀγάπη ˸, οὐ ζηλοῖ , [ ἡ ἀγάπη ] οὐ περπερεύεται , οὐ φυσιοῦται οὐκ ἀσχημονεῖ , οὐ ζητεῖ...