Biblische Inspiration und Randal Rauser

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English version: Biblical Inspiration and Randal Rauser

 

Randal Rauser, der zweifelsohne einer der größten evangelikalen Theologen, Philosophen und Verteidiger des Glaubens (sowie ein liebevoller Mann) ist interviewte vor kurzer Zeit den Pastoren und Theologen Tyler Williams über die Kluft zwischen den Resultaten der historischen kritischen Methode und der Art und Weise, wie Pfarrer zu ihren Herden predigen.

Ich beschloss, darüber zu bloggen, weil ich mit genau diesem Problem zwei Tage zuvor konfrontiert wurde.

Ich ging zu einer evangelikalen Bibelstudie über das Johannesevangelium und wies darauf hin, dass viele Aussagen von Jesus dort nicht historisch sein können, weil es zu große Diskrepanzen mit der Weise gibt, wie er sich selbst ausdruckt in den synoptischen Evangelien

Viele Leute dort waren unwillig, darüber zu diskutieren und sagten nur, dass sie die Historizität dieser Passagen annehmen und ihren Glauben darauf aufbauen wollen.

Es ist bestimmt konsistent mit den Bemerkungen von Tyler (und auch von Randal), dass viele Menschen ihre Zweifel nie in der Kirche zugeben, aus Furcht ausgeschlossen zu werden.

Meiner Meinung nach ist es ziemlich unverantwortlich, denn es ist schon wichtig, ob Jesus diese Dinge wirklich behauptet hat oder ob sie der Theologie von Johannes entspringen (der selbst alles von vornherein hätte erfinden können oder wahre Aussagen Christi modifiziert und spritualiziert hätte).

 

Sie erwähnen den Fall von Barth Ehrmann, der nachdem er ein Fundamentalist gewesen war eine starke Entkonvertierung erfuhr und nun den gesamten christlichen Glauben in Frage stellt.

Zurecht betonen sie die Tatsache, dass ein starres Glaubenssystem viele intelligente Personen dazu führen kann, das Kind mit dem Bade aus zu schütten, sodass sie dann Atheisten oder mindestens Agnostiker werden.

Nachher versuchten Randal und Tyler die Doktrin der biblischen Irrtumslosigkeit zu erretten, indem der Sinn des Begriffs so erweitert wurde, dass  Gott beabsichtigte, die gesamte Bibel als einen heiligen Kanon zu deklarieren.

Sie haben recht, dass es mit nicht-historischen und mythologischen Erzählungen innerhalb der Bibel vereinbar ist, da sie uns geistliche Wahrheiten beibringen.

Das Konzept, dass Gott fälschlich zugewiesene Schreiber in den Kanon einschliessen würde ist schwerer zu verschlucken, bleibt dennoch nicht sehr unplausibel, wenn die Autoren profunde spirituelle und moralische Einsichten hatten.

 

Dennoch ist die Gegenwart von “Terrortexten” innerhalb des Kanons, wobei Gott als ein völkermörderischer Monster beschrieben wird, ein unbesiegbarer Einwand gegen jeglichen Glauben an die Irrumslosigkeit.

Randal geht davon aus, dass Gott die Absicht hatte, diese Texte in die Bibel einzuschliessen, um uns zu lehren, Gott gegenüber ehrlich zu sein und um uns die Verderbtheit  unserer eigenen Herzen zu zeigen, die wir allzu einfach auf Ihn hinein projiziert.

Aber es ist sehr problematisch.

Einerseits ist es gewiss richtig, dass sehr früh Gläubige wie die Kirchenväter Origen und Gregor radikal  die in den Terrortexten ausgedruckte Theologie ablehnten. In der Tat, wie Thom Stark und viele anderen darauf hingewiesen haben  hatten sogar andere biblische Autoren wie Ezechiel und Jonah in dieser Hinsicht  eine sehr unterschiedliche Theologie im Vergleich zu den Schreibern von Joshua und Samuel.

Andererseits kann es nicht verleugnet werden, dass die Terrortexte einen sehr schlechten Einfluss auf nicht wenige Menschen ausgeübt haben, die sie als Ausrede missbraucht haben, ihren eigenen Hass zu begründen.

Aus diesem Grund bezweifle ich sehr, dass Gott wollte, dass sie Teil eines Übernatürlichen Kanons werden.

 

Tatsächlich verwerfe ich die Idee, dass die Bibel unser Fundament sein sollte, um zu lernen, wie Gott ist. Ich denke, dass wir unsere Theologie auf dem Konzept basieren sollen, dass Gott perfekt sein muss, um überhaupt Gott zu sein.

Dies sollte unser Startpunkt sein.

Wir können dann  die unterschiedlichsten biblischen Texte als die menschlichen Gesichter Gottes ansehen (um Thom Starks wundervollen Ausdruck zu benutzen), das heißt als genauso inspiriert wie Bücher ausserhalb des Kanons (wie die von den Kirchenvätern, Aquinas, Wesley, C.S. Lewis und nicht zuletzt Randal Rauser selbst verfassten).

Und ich bin überzeugt, dass nicht-christliche Autoren viele Aspekte von Gott erleben können und Dinge über Ihn gut begreifen können.

Wie ich in einer zukünftigen Post argumentieren werde, haben wir gute Gründe zur Annahme , dass auf diese Weise  der Apostel Paulus im Laufe seiner Rede in Athen  einige heidnische Autoren betrachtete.

 

 

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Should an inerrant Bible be the very foundation of Christianity?

Eric Reitan, a progressive Christian philosopher (having written an excellent book on the New Atheism and one defending universal salvation) gave several arguments against the central place of the Bible for our faith.

 

How Does God Reveal? Five Christian Reasons to Doubt Biblical Inerrancy

 
The Patheos website is currently hosting a multi-blog conversation about progressive Christianity and Scripture which has generated numerous engaging and thoughtful contributions–such as this one by James McGrath. Because the relationship between progressive Christian faith and the Bible is one of my enduring interests, the sudden flood of interesting essays on the topic has inspired me to take a few minutes to reflect on the issue myself. 

As a philosopher of religion, the way I approach this topic is in terms of a philosophical question: What theory of revelation fits best with the Christian view of God? Put another way, if there is a God that fits the broadly Christian description, how would we expect such a God to reveal the divine nature and will to the world?

Many conservative Christians take it for granted that God has revealed the divine nature and will in and through a specific book. More precisely (although they aren’t usually this precise), they believe that God inspired certain human authors at various times in history to write texts that inerrantly express divine truths–and then inspired other human beings to correctly recognize these texts and include all and only them in the comprehensive collection of Scriptures we call the Bible.

Let’s call this the theory of biblical inerrancy.

Does this theory fit well with broader Christian beliefs? Is this a good Christian theory about divine revelation, culminating in a good Christian theory about what the Bible is and what sort of authority we should attach to it? I think there are a number of reasons to be skeptical.

Put more narrowly, I think there are a number of reasons why Christians should be skeptical, given their Christian starting points. Let’s consider at least some of these reasons.

1. Christianity holds that Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God

Traditional Christian teaching holds that Jesus is the Word made Flesh, the incarnation of God in history. And this means that for Christians, the primary and monumental revelation of God is in the person of Jesus, not in any book (however inspired). It is this fact which motivated George MacDonald to say of the Bible,

It nowhere lays claim to be regarded as the Word, the Way, the Truth. The Bible leads us to Jesus, the inexhaustible, the ever unfolding Revelation of God. It is Christ “in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge,” not the Bible, save as leading to him.

Biblical inerrantists might argue that nothing precludes God from both revealing the divine nature primarily in Jesus and authoring an inerrant book as a secondary revelation. This is true as far as it goes. But there are reasons for concern.

First, there’s a difference between the kind of revelation that Jesus represents, and the kind that a book represents. A person and a book are different things, and we learn from them in different ways. Consider the difference between having a mentor in the project of becoming a better person, and reading self-help books.

Doesn’t Christianity teach that God’s preferred way of disclosing the divine nature and will is through personal, living relationship rather than fixed words? The problem with throwing in an inerrant book as a “supplemental” revelation is that it can lead to Bible-worship. Given human psychology, there is something alluring about having a book with all the answers. But if God primarily wants us to find the answers through personal engagement with the living God, as discovered in Jesus, isn’t there a real danger that fixation on the Bible will distract the faithful from God’s primary mode of self-disclosure?

None of this is to say that human stories–witness accounts of divine revelation in history–aren’t important. They can motivate a desire to seek out the one whom the stories are about, and they can offer tools for discerning whether you’ve found the one you seek or an imposter. But once they are seen as secondary, as valuable as a means to an end, the need for inerrancy dissipates. If what really matters is my friendship with Joe, and if I sought out and formed a friendship with him because lots of people told me stories about him that revealed him as an awesome guy I wanted to meet, do I really need to insist that those storytellers were inerrant? Why?

2. The Jesus of Scripture was not an inerrantist

In John 8:1-11, we have the story of the teachers of the law coming to Jesus with an adulteress, and asking Him whether they ought to stone her to death as the Scriptures prescribe. The passage itself declares that this was a trap: If Jesus came out and directly told them not to stone her, He would be defying a direct scriptural injunction.

He avoided the trap: He didn’t directly telling them to act contrary to Scripture. Instead, He told them that the one without sin should cast the first stone.

It is a stunning and powerful story (no wonder someone decided to write it into the Gospel of John, even though it didn’t appear in the earliest versions). But notice that Jesus didn’t tell them to do what Scripture prescribed. Instead, He found a powerful way to drive home exactly what was wrong with following that scriptural injunction–in a way that avoided their trap.

In short, Jesus disagreed with some of the teachings in the Scriptures of His day. In the Sermon on the Mount, he offered gentle correctives to earlier teachings–teachings which started in a direction but didn’t go far enough. The lex talionis command to punish evildoers eye for eye and tooth for tooth may, at the time, have served as a restraint on retributive impulses: don’t punish beyond the severity of the crime. But for Jesus, that level of restrain was insufficient. It was a start on a path, perhaps, but only that. Jesus followed the trajectory of that path to its conclusion, and enjoined His listeners to turn the other cheek.

In short, it’s clear Jesus didn’t have the inerrantist view towards the Scriptures of His day that conservative Christians have towards the Christian Scriptures of today. Conservatives might argue that Jesus would view the modern Bible–or maybe just the New Testament?–in the way they favor, even if the approach to Scripture that He actually modeled is at odds with their approach.

Allow me to treat such a speculative claim with suspicion. If Jesus is the primary revelation of God in history, then it strikes me as appropriate to follow His model for approaching Scripture, and respectfully look beyond the letters on the page to the deeper intentions that finite human authors might have missed, noticing trajectories and exploring where they might lead.

3. In the New Testament, Paul distinguished between his views and the Lord’s

 In 1 Corinthians 7:10-12, Paul says the following:

To the married I give this command (not I, but the Lord): A wife must not separate from her husband. But if she does, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband. And a husband must not divorce his wife. To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her…

I’ve talked about this passage before, so I won’t go into details. What interests me is the distinction Paul makes between his own views and those of the Lord. In this passage, it’s clear that Paul did not see Himself as taking dictation from God. He made a clear distinction between his own opinions and those of the Lord, and by making the distinction explicit was signaling to his readers that they should treat the injunctions differently–as if he didn’t want to claim for himself the kind of authority that he took to accompany Jesus’ explicit teachings.

But if inerrantism is true, then Paul’s teachings are the inerrant word of God, and so have the same kind of authority as Jesus’ words. In other words, if inerrantism is true, then Paul was wrong to make the distinction he made. But that distinction is made by Paul in a letter that’s in the Bible. And if inerrantism is true, a distinction made in a letter that’s in the Bible has to be accurate. But if it’s accurate, inerrantism isn’t true. Zounds!

An exercise in creative interpretation might offer the inerrantist the wiggle room to escape this logical trap, but inerrantists are routinely skeptical of such creative interpretation of Scripture. At best, then, this amounts to a difficulty for inerrantism, the sort of difficulty one often sees when trying to force a theory onto subject matter that doesn’t quite suit it. Theories can perhaps weather some such difficulties, but if they become too common it is hard to reasonably persist in endorsing the theory.

4. Efforts to overcome apparent contradictions in Scripture lead to a false view of Scripture

Speaking of difficulties of this sort, the Bible isn’t a neat, orderly, systematically consistent treatise. The Gospel narratives, for example, aren’t identical. They tell the stories of Jesus’ life in different ways. Details differ–for example, in accounts of the resurrection. Bart Ehrman does a fine job of cataloguing  many of these in Jesus, Interrupted: Revealing the Hidden Contradictions in the Bible.

Mostly, these tensions aren’t explicit contradictions but rather what might be called apparent ones: they don’t seem as if they can go together, because you’d need to tell a rather convoluted story to make them fit.

Inerrantists have not been remiss in offering such convoluted stories. But if you need to tell enough of them in order to make your theory map onto what it’s supposed to explain, the theory becomes increasingly implausible.

And there’s another problem, one that should be of concern to Christians who care about the Bible. The convoluted tales that you have to tell in order to make disparate biblical narratives fit together end up leading you away from an honest appreciation of the message of the biblical authors. As Ehrman puts it, “To approach the stories in this way is to rob each author of his own integrity as an author and to deprive him of the meaning that he conveys in his story.”

When you do this, you care more about preserving your theory about the Bible than you do about understanding and taking in its message. For me, this is one of the greatest tragedies of an inerrantist approach to Scripture: It makes it difficult for readers to engage with the Bible on its own terms. It’s like someone who is so devoted to a false image of their spouse that they can’t see their spouse for the person they really are. Likewise, the steps that need to be taken in order to preserve the doctrine of inerrancy in the face of the Bible’s actual content means that it becomes impossible to have an intimate relationship with the Bible as it really is. This is not taking the Bible seriously. It is taking the doctrine of inerrancy seriously at the expense of the Bible.  

5. God is love

Christianity teaches that God is love. In fact, it is the closest thing Christians have to a scriptural definition of God:  “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8).

If God is love, then we experience God when we love. If God is love, then the primary way we can encounter God is through loving and being loved–that is, through cultivating loving relationships with persons. This may help to explain the Christian view that a person–Jesus–served in history as God’s fundamental revelation, rather than a book. Books can’t love you. And you can’t love a book in the sense of “love” that Christians (and the author of 1 John) have in mind when we say God is love.

When we feel the profound presence of the divine showering love upon us–or when we feel the joy of being loved by others–we are encountering the divine nature as something coming to us from the outside. But when we love our neighbors as ourselves, we are channeling divine love, and experiencing it “from within” (so to speak). The divine nature is moving within us, more intimately connected to us than any mere object of experience. I think this is what the author of 1 John means when he says that whoever does not love does not know God. To love others is to be filled with the spirit of God. It is to let God in.

If any of that is true, then it is by encouraging us to love one another that God makes possible the most profound revelation of the divine nature and will. And while the Bible does encourage us to love one another, the theory about the Bible which takes it to be the inerrant revelation of God may actually be an impediment to love.

We end up focusing more attention on the Bible than on our neighbors. We are more committed to “doing what the Bible says” than we are to loving those around us. Out of a desire to be connected with God, we insist that homosexuality is always and everywhere sinful–and when the gay and lesbian neighbors we are supposed to love cry out in despair, their lives crushed by these teachings, we stifle our compassion, shutting out love in fear that loving them as ourselves might lead us to question the inerrancy of the Bible.

If God is love, then any theory of revelation that tells us to find God by burying our noses in a book is a problematic theory. If God is love, we must look for God in the love we see in the world. The Bible, understood as a flawed and finite human testament to the God of love working in history, can be a deeply meaningful partner in our quest to encounter God and live in the light of divine goodness. But as soon as it is treated as inerrant, it is in danger of becoming a bludgeon used to silence those neighbors who want to share experiences that don’t quite fit with this or that verse.

The Bible points away from itself. Respect for it demands that we look up from the page and engage with our neighbors and the creation. God is alive in the world. The Bible tells us that God is alive in the world. In so doing, the book is telling us that if we want to find God, we need to look into our neighbor’s face with love, and at the natural world and all its creatures with love.

Because God is there. God is there, revealing Himself in the vibrancy of life and the child’s laugh and the mother’s tender kiss. God is there, in the gay man who sits by his longtime partner’s hospital bedside, gently stroking his brow. God is there, in the joyous wedding vows of the lesbian couple that can finally get a legal marriage after years together.

And any time a too-literal allegiance to the letter of the biblical text causes someone not to see the face of God in that tenderness and joy, the doctrine of biblical inerrancy has blocked divine revelation, impeding God’s effort to self-disclose to the world.

 

 

Here follows my own response.

 

Dear Eric,

it would be a terrible understatement to say that this post of yours was extraordinarily amazing 🙂

Here is a major problem for the Conservative Protestant position: it cannot merely be that their Bible is inerrant, but also that people who first recognized it that way were as well. If they weren’t, what give us the guarantee that their decision was correct?

Therefore, I view the doctrine of Solo Scriptura as rationally extremely problematic.


I also agree that God’s revelation was the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth and that it is not propositional knowledge, even if it logically entails affirming certain truths.

I think that Biblical inerrancy is IMPOSSIBLE in the first place, due to the presence of many conflicting voices in the collection of books having been gathered under that name.

Therefore, ironically enough, inerrantists themselves have constantly to pick and choose which texts they take at face values and which they necessarily have to distort because they contradict the former.

The real danger here is that according to the doctrine of inerrancy, if you find some Biblical verses describing God as commanding moral atrocities, you HAVE to conclude that the God experienced by ALL other Biblical writers endorsed them as well.

Tragically, nasty fundamentalists considerably water down Christ’s call to love our enemies to make it match the theology of the imprecatory psalms.

And many of them will give up Christianity altogether, become bitter anti-atheists while keeping the same fundamentalistic mindset.
So a New Atheist recently wrote he wants to burn the whole Bible because of the presence of atrocities within it, ignoring the obvious fact there are many other Biblical authors who did not approve at all of them.

As you expressed it so well, the priority of Conservative Evangelicals is NOT to become more loving persons and turn the world into a better place BUT to combat heresies and frenetically defend particular verses having been empirically refuted.

This explains rather well why they’re so obsessed with homosexuality while utterly ignoring (or even upholding) crying social inequalities.
I have come to see books within the Biblical Canon in the same way I view other Jewish and Christian books, and offered a parallel between C.S. Lewis and the apostle Paul writing down their experiences with God.

I think that the basis of a progressive Christian theology should be the idea that as a perfect being, God has necessarily to be much more loving and just than any (purely) human being could ever be.

Thus, if your theology teaches that God predetermined countless babies to grow up for being damned and eternally suffer, you’ve made a reductio-ad absurdum of it.

I think you’re an incredibly bright person and defender of our faith, and I wish much more people would read your writings instead of those of William Lane Craig.
His evil view of God is one of the main reasons why Conservative Evangelicalism is increasingly collapsing.
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Keep the good work!

 

 

 

 

Über die Inspiration der Bibel und anderer Bücher

English version: On the Inspiration of the Bible and other Books. Feel free to comment there at any time!

Fundamentalisten und generell Evangelikalen glauben, dass wenn Gott existiert und an menschlichen Angelegenheiten interessiert ist, Er uns eine irrtumslose Bibel geben würde, wo Seine Natur auf eine eindeutige und vertrauenswürdige Weise offenbart ist.

Wir leben in einem sehr unsicheren Zeitalter und ich bin mir wohl bewusst, dass ein solcher Glaube eine große Bequemlichkeit nicht wenigen Menschen bringen kann, die das Gefühl haben, einen unerschütterlichen Anker gefunden zu haben.

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Aber wenn kluge und intellektuell ehrliche Menschen mit unverkennbaren biblischen Widersprüchen und vor allem Stellen konfrontiert werden, wo Gott als ein hässliches Monster dargestellt wird, werden sie am häufigsten das Kind mit dem Bade ausschütten und nachtragende Gegner des Christentums werden.

Solche Bekehrungen zum Antitheismus stammen oft aus der binären Weise, auf welche ihr Gehirn programmiert worden sind, den biblischen Kanon zu berücksichtigen: wie ein junger Pastor es mir vor kurzer Zeit gesagt hat: wenn man anfängt, die Wahrheiten von Details im Alten Testament zu bezweifeln, wäre alles in Frage gestellt; sodass es unmöglich wäre, an die Auferstehung von Jesus zu glauben.

Es gelingt ihnen nicht, die Möglichkeit zu betrachten, dass es andere Weisen gibt, die Bibel zu lesen, zu verstehen und zu berücksichtigen.

Ich persönlich lese die im biblischen Kanon hereingenommenen Bücher auf dieselbe Weise, wie ich Bücher aus christlichen Autoren zwischen 300 nach Christus und der heutigen Zeit lese, das heißt als die Beschreibung von menschlichen Erfahrungen und Gedanken über Gott.

Wenn ich die Zeugnisse von anderen Christen lese, werde ich bestimmt denken, dass sie fehlbare menschliche Wörter über Gott schreiben, aber ich bin dennoch ganz offen dafür, dass sie profunde Einsichten über Gott und die Art und Weise bekommen haben, wie man sein Leben führen sollte.
Ich bin auch völlig offen dafür, dass Gott Wunder bewirkt hat und dass sie feindlichen geistlichen Wesen begegnet sind.

Und wie ich mit dem Beispiel des Lebens von Martin Luther erklärt habe, sogar wenn Leute entsetzliche Sachen tun und falsche (und sogar lästerliche) Dinge über Gott lehren, habe ich kein Problem damit, an die Realität mancher ihrer Erfahrungen mit Ihm zu glauben.

Um ein konkretes Beispiel zu nehmen, lese ich die Bücher von Paulus auf dieselbe Weise, wie ich die von C.S. Lewis lese: ich glaube dass beide vorbildhafte Christen, große Verteidiger des Glaubens und außergewöhnliche Männer waren, und die Existenz von logischen, empirischen und theologischen Fehlern in ihren Schriften verhindert mich keineswegs daran, all die richtigen Sachen wert zu schätzen, die sie herausgefunden haben.

Aber wenn wir nicht glauben, dass die sich im biblischen Kanon befindenden Bücher inspirierter als andere Bücher sind, wie können wir den Unterschied zwischen richtigen und falschen Aussagen über Gott machen?

Während ich nicht für alle progressive Christen sprechen kann, glaube ich, dass wir unsere Theologie auf der Tatsache basieren müssen, dass Gott perfekt sein muss, um überhaupt Gott zu sein.
Sogar wenn Menschen fehlbare Geschöpfe sind, sind sie gut im Stande, die Vollkommenheit zu erkennen und herauszufinden, was moralisch richtig und falsch ist, wie Paulus es in den ersten Kapiteln des Briefs zu den Römern erklärt hat.

Wie ich in einer zukünftigen Post nahe legen werde glaubte und lehrte eigentlich Paulus (oder zumindest der Schreiber der Apostelgeschichte), dass über Zeus nachdenkende heidnische Autoren viele Sachen über Gott begreifen und herausfinden konnten.

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Über die Kunst, herauszupicken

English version: on the art of picking and choosing.    Feel free to comment there!

Eine der beliebtesten Kritiken von christlichen Fundamentalisten und militanten Atheisten zugleich gegen liberale und progressive Christen ist die Behauptung, sie picken die Versen heraus, die sie mögen, während sie die anderen ignorieren.

Ein offensichtliches Problem ist, dass jeder Christ zwangsläufig manche Versen glaubt während er andere ignoriert. Dies ist der Fall, weil die Bibel hoffnungslos widersprüchlich ist, und Menschen eine riesige Schwierigkeit haben, zwei widersprüchliche Glauben in ihrem Geist gleichzeitig zu haben.

Man kann nicht an kollektive Strafe glauben, UND dass Kinder nie für die Sünden ihrer Eltern bestraft werden dürfen, DASS man seinen Feind hassen UND lieben soll, dass Gott den Weg des Übeltäters vorbereitet und Ihm seine Missetaten vorwerfen wird, dass Gott seine Pläne verändert und nicht verändert, und so weiter und so fort.

Wütende Atheisten, die von ihrer fundamentalistischen Vergangenheit angeekelt sind, glauben generell, dass DER Gott der Bibel  ein böses, grauenhaftes Monster ist.

Mit ihrem Glauben glückliche Evangelikalen glauben dagegen, dass DER Gott der Bibel allliebend und wundervoll ist.

Ich glaube, dass beide Seiten sich völlig irren, weil DER Gott der Bibel nicht existiert. Was wir finden sind unterschiedliche Götter IN der Bibel,

Ich glaube, dass es ein simples Kriterium gibt, das man immer verwenden kann, um etwas in der Bibel abzulehnen, das Gott zugeschrieben wurde.

1)     Gott muss notwendigerweise ein perfektes Wesen sein, zumindest viel netter, liebender und gerechter, als wir sind.

2)    Trotz all ihren Makels sind Menschen wohl fähig, Güte und Perfektion zu erkennen (und dies macht uns schuldig, wie Paulus es in Römer 2 ausdrückte).

Es bedeutet, dass wir ziemlich sicher sein können, dass er keinen Völkermord wie im Buch Joshua angeordnet hat.

Aber was, wenn wir eine nette Geschichte im AT finden, wo zum Beispiel Gott es zugelassen hat, dass Joseph durch seine Brüder entführt wurde, damit er seine Familie Jahre später retten konnte? Wenn wir die (später offenbarte) Hoffnung auf ein Leben nach dem Tod betrachtet, scheint mir diese Geschichte mit Gottes Vollkommenheit völlig kompatibel zu sein.
Können wir deswegen daraus schliessen, dass es historisch echt war?

Nein, denn so vorzugehen wäre absurd. Wir können nur sagen, dass eine solche göttliche Beschreibung mit Seiner perfekten Natur im Einklang ist und dass man diesen Text benutzen kann, um selber geistlich aufgebaut zu werden.

Die Bibel ist eine Versammlung von religiösen Büchern (die auch Historie enthalten können), wobei Menschen ihre Gedanken und Erfahrungen mit dem Göttlichen niedergeschrieben haben, auf dieselbe Weise, wie nicht kanonische Schreiber es getan haben.

Ich lese generell die Bibel auf die selbe Weise, wie ich Bücher von den Vätern der frühen Kirche, Luther, Ellen White, Francis Schaeffer, C.S. Lewis, Greg Boyd und so weiter und so fort. lese.

Auf meinen beiden obigen Kriterien basierend, schätze ich ihre Erfahrungen und Gedanken ein, und wende ihre Einsichten auf mein eigenes Wandeln mit Gott an.

Nach Monaten einer sich fort entwickelnden  Theologie ist dies meine aktuelle Sicht der Bibel: kein Satz von Gesetzen und Fakten über das Universum und Gott, aber die “menschlichen Gesichter von Gott”, um den wundervollen Ausdruck von Thom Stark zu benutzen.

Ich glaube wirklich, dass Gott sich der Menschheit und den alten Hebräern auf eine besondere Weise offenbart hat, aber Er tat so auf die selbe Weise, wie Er sich Missionaren in Afrika oder Martin Luther vor einigen Jahrhunderten offenbarte.

Und während ich glaube, dass wir gute Gründe haben, den reduktiven Materialismus abzulehnen, und an eine Transzendenz zu glauben, weiss ich nicht, ob das Christentum wahr ist oder nicht.
Gemäß meiner eigenen Definition bedeutet Glaube Hoffnung, eine Hoffnung auf einen guten Gott, der letzgültig das Übel für immer besiegen wird.

Und WENN dieser Gott existiert, erscheint es mir höchstwahrscheinlich, dass Er sich durch das Leben, Tod und Auferstehung von Jesus von Nazareth offenbart hat.

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On the Inspiration of the Bible and other Books

 Deutsche Version: Von der Interpretation der Bibel und anderer Bücher.

The Bible as a solid anchor?

Fundamentalists and more generally Evangelicals believe that if God exists and is interested in human affairs, He will give us an inerrant Bible where His nature is revealed in a consistent and trustworthy manner.

We are living in a very uncertain world and I am well aware that such a faith can bring a great comfort to quite a few people who have the feeling to have found an unshakable anchor.

The Bible as a strong anchor in a deep ocean.
The Bible, firm anchor of our faith?

But when clever and intellectually honest persons are confronted with undeniable Biblical contradictions, and above else with places where God is portrayed as  being an unjust tyrant, they will most often throw out the proverbial baby with the bathwater and become resentful opponents of Christianity.

Such deconversion experiences often stem from the binary way their brain has been programmed to consider the Biblical Canon: as a young pastor told me recently, if one begins to doubt the truth of details in the Old Testament, everything is called into question and it becomes impossible to believe that Jesus rose from the dead.

They fail to consider the possibility there are many other ways to read, understand and see the Bible.

I personally read the books accepted within the Biblical Canon in the same way I read books from all Christian authors between 300 A.C. and our 21cst century, that is as the description of human experiences with and thoughts about God.

When I read the testimonies of other Christians, I will certainly consider what they write as fallible humans words about God, but I am quite open they might have received profound insights about God and how to lead one’s life. I would be also quite open to the possibility that God acted in miraculous ways among them and that they encountered hostile spiritual entities.

And as I explained with the example of the life of Martin Luther  even if people do egregious things and teach mistaken (and even blasphemous) things about God, I have no problem believing they have genuine experiences with Him.

To take a concrete example, I read the books of the apostle Paul in the same way  I read books from C.S. Lewis: I believe that both were exemplary Christians, great defenders of the faith and extraordinary men, and the presence of logical, empirical and theological errors in their writings does not prevent me at all from appreciating all the right things they figured out.

But if we don’t believe that the books within the Biblical Canon are more inspired than books outside it, how can we make the difference between right and wrong beliefs about God?

While I cannot speak for all progressive Christians, I believe that we should base our theology on the fact that God has to be perfect in order for Him to be God. Even if human beings are fallible creatures, they are quite able to recognize perfection and to find out what is morally right and wrong as Saint Paul explained in the first chapters of the letter to the Romans.

Actually, as I will argue in a future post, the apostle Paul (or at the very least the author of the Acts of the Apostles)  believed and taught that Pagan authors thinking about Zeus can get quite a few things about God right.

The apostle Paul, preaching and debating with Greek philosophers.
Apostle Paul at the Areopagus

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