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How do we know there's a God? What is he like?

Re: The god of the OT and of the NT are different entities

Postby Right » Tue Jun 04, 2019 12:47 pm

> The real significance os Uz is that Job is not an Israelite.

Huh, I never really picked up on that. I appreciate you pointing that out.

> I'll hear a newscaster say, "A Good Samaritan is responsible for helping save a boy's life today when he fell in the river..." Is it disingenuous for that newscaster to mention a fictional character alongside a real one? I don't think so.

I see what you’re saying in this example and those above, but I think this isn’t quite what’s going on here. The newscaster is making a comment about the individual’s character.

I see this more like “We can overcome hardships, just like Andrew Jackson, Bethany Hamilton, or .” We’re setting a fictional as an example, or someone we can empathize with. I don’t doubt people can be and are inspired by fictional characters, especially when young, but it just comes off as mildly disingenuous to me to tell us to aspire to a fictional character. Maybe I’m mistaken, but I think it’s unprecedented in the Bible; something we aren’t really set up to expect or accept, almost an inconsistency, for lack of a better word.

I don’t know though, I’m trying to find the line between what’s true and where my feelings on this matter are. Anyway, I appreciate you taking the time to talk about this with me.
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Re: The god of the OT and of the NT are different entities

Postby jimwalton » Tue Jun 04, 2019 12:47 pm

> The newscaster is making a comment about the individual’s character.

As are Ezekiel and James. Ezekiel uses Job of someone who was saved by his righteousness. You'll notice that this section of Ezekiel is hypothetical, so it doesn’t need to be historical to prove its point.

James 5.11 is making a comment about Job's perseverance.

We'd all understand if we said, "We could learn to persevere and overcome hardships, like Andrew Jackson, or Frodo Baggins."
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Re: The god of the OT and of the NT are different entities

Postby Wolf born » Wed Jun 05, 2019 3:10 pm

> Yet we don’t reject science

Because science does not claim to be perfect or divinely inspired. Also, science acknowledges that it can be disproved.

> If you’re going to reject everything that comes out of a human brain

Slippery slope fallacy. I never said this. My point is that God did not give humans rules to interpret the Bible. Instead, we created our own. Why would He leave those out if they were so important?

> doesn’t require that those principles are worthless

No one said they are worthless, just acknowledge that they are not perfect.

> My point is that the new covenant did not change the way God acts toward people

Yes, it did. If you are going to make the argument that Jesus intervenes on our behalf for our sins, then that acknowledges that this agreement was not previously present. Thus, instead of God condemning people to Hell for eternity, there is an chance for God to save us. If He saves us, this is a new behaviour for God that was not previously there. Consequently, because of Jesus, He changes his response to our sin.
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Re: The god of the OT and of the NT are different entities

Postby jimwalton » Wed Jun 05, 2019 3:10 pm

> Because science does not claim to be perfect or divinely inspired.

We accept science because we have learned how to pursue truth by observation of natural phenomena, even though it is told to us by human beings. We have learned that human beings have a tremendous capacity for conveying reliable information when they want to and are able to. It is on that same basis that we accept the Bible. We have learned that the writers have a tremendous capacity for conveying reliable information when inspired by God to do so.

> Also, science acknowledges that it can be disproved.

Believe it or not, biblical studies is a very vibrant discipline, and we also continually make corrections in our understandings things. Archaeologists are continually digging up things that help us to reevaluate what we know and derive new perspectives and even new information. We do it all the time.

> Slippery slope fallacy. I never said this. My point is that God did not give humans rules to interpret the Bible.

My point is that God gave us very competent brains by which we can derive things like the scientific method, historiographical methods, grammar, and hermeneutical principles. If the scientific method can be deemed to be a reliable approach to the natural world, then so also hermeneutical principles to a correct interpretive framework. We use the same kinds of principles to interpret literature or to explicate poetry. We don't have to have received golden tablets from the sky to be able to interpret well.

> No one said they are worthless, just acknowledge that they are not perfect.

"Perfect" is not the right way to think about it. It's a methodology, like the scientific method. The scientific method isn't "perfect," but it's a reliable mechanism by which to understand truth. So also with interpreting the Bible. The principles we use are reliable to achieve the goal at hand.

> Yes, it did. If you are going to make the argument that Jesus intervenes on our behalf for our sins, then that acknowledges that this agreement was not previously present.

God's motive all along was that there be mediation and intervention for the forgiveness of sins, since nowhere in the biblical record are we capable of forgiving our own sins. In the OT, priests intervened via sacrifice of a sacrificial animal; in the NT, Jesus as the high priest intervened via sacrifice of himself as the "lamb." There was no change here as to how God acts towards people.

The concept of God judging those who rejected Him is just as present and prominent in the OT as in the NT. Daniel 12.2 is one verse in the OT that addresses the concept of the afterlife, but Daniel's source is undoubtedly Isaiah. I don't see a change in the way God acts towards people.

> Consequently, because of Jesus, He changes his response to our sin.

Jesus was the next step in the revelatory process, as Heb. 1.2 indicates. But God's response to sin was always the same. Once Jesus came, died, and rose, however, forgiveness was based on that sacrifice and mediated by Jesus as the high priest who had Himself been the sacrificial lamb. It's a flow of progressive thought rather than a "different entity," to quote the OP.
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Re: The god of the OT and of the NT are different entities

Postby Wolf born » Wed Jun 12, 2019 1:18 pm

> We accept science because we have learned how to pursue truth by observation of natural phenomena

What natural phenomena does the Bible provide that is observable?

> Believe it or not, biblical studies is a very vibrant discipline, and we also continually make corrections in our understandings things

Sure, but there are entire disciplines of Christianity that do not make such corrections. Entire factions of science do not make this claim.

> God gave us very competent brains.

This belief is based on another assumption: God is real.

> "Perfect" is not the right way to think about it. It's a methodology, like the scientific method.

Perfect is synonymous with inerrant.

You typed a long reply. I’ll address your other points but let’s address these first.
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Re: The god of the OT and of the NT are different entities

Postby jimwalton » Wed Jun 12, 2019 1:25 pm

> What natural phenomena does the Bible provide that is observable?

What? What does this have to do with anything? My point was, "We have learned that human beings have a tremendous capacity for conveying reliable information when they want to and are able to."

> This belief is based on another assumption: God is real.

Of course it is. No one would deny or debate that.

> Perfect is synonymous with inerrant.

If you're trying to make a side-comment about the Bible here (slip something in the side door), inerrancy is not a useful term when it comes to the Bible.

"Inerrancy," as a term, has its problems and is inadequate to describe what we're after as we talk about honoring the authority of Scripture. We know for a fact that there are manuscript discrepancies in biblical transmission, so it is often said that original manuscripts (the "autographs") are what we consider to be "perfect," inerrant, or infallible. But if we have none of the autographs, the claim is somewhat of an illusion. Secondly, we know that the ancients had a different scientific understanding than we do, for instance, and that they were writing accurately to their own culture. So is the text inerrant or isn't it? "Inerrancy" just isn't the right term. In the same sense, the ancients' entire approach to historiography (the writing of history) is different from ours, and when we allow for those differences, "inerrancy" is just not a helpful term.

As was written in The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (1978): "We deny that it is proper to evaluate Scripture according to standards of truth and error that are alien to its usage and purpose. We further deny that inerrancy is negated by Biblical phenomena such as a lack of modern technical precision, irregularities of grammar or spelling, observational descriptions of nature, the reporting of falsehoods, the use of hyperbole and round numbers, the topical arrangement of material, variant selections of material in parallel accounts, or the use of free citations. These hermeneutical principles are designed to prevent us from demanding mathematical precision from the New Testament but rather historical and theological reliability in terms of the ordinary communication of daily life. This approach leaves some room for discretion while at the same time not calling into question the conviction that the New Testament is true in all that it affirms."

Theologically speaking, it is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to use a single term that provides an adequate box for us to put Scripture in. All of the words are too limited, and Scripture is too exalted. We use words like infallible, inerrant, and literal to try to declare our deep respect and honor for the authority and divine nature of the Scriptures, but these are man-made words used to refute accusations against the Bible. While we admire the reasons they were coined, further investigation shows us that they don't rise to the necessary height to capture the worthiness of God’s Word.

Our wisest course is to use words that the Bible itself uses to describe itself, and we can find safety and assurance in the adequacy of those terms. Even those words need to be interpreted, however. The first term comes from 2 Timothy 3:16: "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." Paul's points are several, not the least of which is that Scripture has God's authority because God is its source. And because God is its source, we can treat it as having the same attributes that God himself has: objective truth, authoritative information, and reliable guidance. It is to be believed and obeyed.

Being God-breathed, the Scripture carries the very presence of God and life of God himself. These words have authority and truth, power and presence. "God-breathed" emphasizes a divine source rather than human truth. Is there a difference between human truth and God's truth? Not in a normal sense, since truth is truth, but yes in the sense that our truth is a derived truth, and God's truth is the original and the source of truth. Think of a pool table with billiard balls on it. When you hit the cue ball into another ball, the other ball is not moving on its own power. It's moving because something made it move. The energy it has is real energy, but it's different from the energy of the first ball. And it can't be as much as the original energy; at least some energy was lost on impact. We as humans deal in derived truth (the second ball), but God's Word is Source Truth, objective truth, absolute truth. God is not only the source of truth, He is truth, and the Scriptures are an authoritative revelation of himself. The truth I tell, by contrast, is derived truth. Something else made it true; I'm just passing it on.

Scripture being God-breathed puts it on a different level than anything I have to say, no matter how true it is. His truth, the Bible, carries more weight, more authority, and more authenticity.

In addition, 2 Peter 1.21 says, "For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." Here we see again that God is the sole source, but the authority of the text is vested in the human communicator, which is our only access to God's communication, which is our true source of authority. While the pen was in the hand of a human, the words had both divine source, initiative, authority and reliability.

John Walton and D. Brent Sandy, in their book "The Lost World of Scripture," counsel: (1) We should be competent readers of the text itself (the words, grammar, syntax, context, genre, etc.); (2) We should be ethical readers as we seek to follow what is written, following the path of the intended meaning of the text; and (3) We should be virtuous readers. The Bible is offering an encounter with God, and it expects the reader to be transformed as a result.
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