Is Genesis all literal, all allegory, or somewhere between?

Discussion in 'Sacred Scripture' started by ZachT, Jun 27, 2021.

  1. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    I can comprehend that but you are deliberately missing the point. :hmm:
    .
     
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  2. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    I'll try to be as charitable as I can here. I am, of course, aware of the sacred/secular distinction. Since God is the origin of both the sacred and the secular, there ought to be no objection to the pursuit of the truth for its own sake, nor should there be surprise when the two realms overlap, as they must when it comes to biblical interpretation. What you seem to me to be expressing is a desire that academic research not be allowed to say anything at variance with what has so far been thought to be 'traditional', and if so, we are simply not going to agree on that. I am not, nor have I any desire to be, a biblical fundamentalist. That does not mean that I am pursuing the secular at the expense of the sacred, and I think I've made that clear in my remarks on St. Paul. I find much that is persuasive in modern accounts of how these stories may have originally come to be, and I affirm the theological conclusions that the NT writers drew from their final canonical form. That's about as complementarian as it gets. If some find that approach "too secular", they are welcome to follow a different method, and that ought not be controversial.
     
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  3. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    I didn't miss the point. I openly reject the point insofar as it could apply to Romans 5:12-18, for the context precludes that point.
     
  4. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    I think the least I should be able to expect on an Anglican site is for cheap shots not to be taken repeatedly at the Anglican Province to which I belong. I let it slide the first few times but it needs to stop. We're all adults here.
     
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  5. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    What I’m saying is, “truth for it’s own sake” is a complicated sentence. It’s not all obvious what it means. Depending on many modern philosophies, there is actually neither a “truth”, nor identity (“its”), nor teleology (“sake”). When you say “truth for its own sake”, I want you to recognize that you’re importing a whole host of very complicated principles. Which need to be defended and justified; they’re not at all obvious and simple.

    So when I say catechized in the Episcopal Church, I’m not trying to do a dig at you, and if it seemed that way, I apologize. All it meant to say, was that within TEC or some other liberal tradition, it’s not uncommon to find that something in this complicated scheme was swapped out, but not necessarily something visible or near the surface.

    It’s like a skyscraper, with a hundred floors and a million pieces. So much depends on the things below it holding on; and those hang on things below those; a vast near-incalculable chain of dependencies that goes all the way down.

    A liberal church tradition may not outright demolish the skyscraper (although with trans lesbian priests they’re doing even that now). More commonly the liberal tradition will swap out a couple of nuts & bolts far below, not near the top where we see it, but deep in some basement, at the very bottom.

    Good-meaning folks like you will then be taught this “modified” skyscraper, which continues to look quite the same as previously; except it now rests on different foundations, or perhaps their new nuts & bolts were made of glue and the whole thing is now prone to collapse at the first wind. So Episcopal Church catechesis is a real thing, and I hope you are aware of subversions of invisible foundations, deep beneath the surface. You have mentioned loving to read this theologian, and that theologian; but now it has surfaced that actually you don’t see the Bible as inspired in the first place. Which all of your favorite authors had assumed!

    What good is it to get into the secondary nuances of grace, providence, sanctity, if your foundational nuts & bolts have now been swapped for something which NEVER held the previous skyscrapers? What guarantee do you have that the skyscraper which the Episcopal Church has built you, with surface continuity but modified foundational elements, won’t fall over?

    Scripture being inspired is one of the core foundations for any great author you can cite to me; any writing on sacred topics for the last 4-5000 years. If that bolt isn’t present in the foundations of your skyscraper, then what does it matter what gets built on top on the 32 floor?

    And by the way, fundamentalism is not my view or the traditional view. I already said that Scripture can have errors or at least different genres so the critique of fundamentalism doesn’t apply. But nevertheless it is fact that it was written by the Holy Ghost. This fact is at the bottom of my skyscraper of theology. We can debate about what goes on the 42nd floor, or the 97th floor, but that’s just word games if one of us has a “modified” skyscraper that differs from the greatest Christian thinkers of all time.

    At least if you added “holy tradition” to your foundation, that would make you Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox. Not a great position but at least one with some great minds behind that one. But having nothing inspired in your foundation, neither scripture nor tradition, that’s no longer participating with other Christians.
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2021
  6. Carolinian

    Carolinian Member

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    I have been thinking about this a lot lately. What does it matter if we all agree which documents are scripture if we don't even agree what scripture is/means. When we look back at the articles, councils, scriptures, and other sources, should we read and understand them based on how they were originally interpreted? I like to think of the split between originalists and progressives regarding the American Constitution. Should we interpret and decide issues based on the beliefs of the authors of the scriptures/articles/councils/creeds believed when they wrote them, or should we reinterpret their words based on modern sensibilities? We should be asking if Jesus, Paul, and the other apostles believed that Adam and Eve existed. Did the church fathers, the reformers, and traditional Anglicans believe that Adam existed? What is the consensus of the ages? I would assert that the scriptures are clear, but debating scripture just seems somewhat meaningless at this point. I am starting to see the Romanist criticism of "me and my bible."
     
  7. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    Apology accepted, forgiven, and forgotten. :thumbsup:
    Hang on...I never said I didn't see the Bible as inspired. I said I don't accept plenary verbal inspiration as that term tends to get tossed around in conversations about inerrancy. I understand they're conceptually distinct, but in today's theological atmosphere they tend to go together. You wrote:
    Exactly. This is also my position. I am aware of no difference between my own view and the two sentences above.
    I use the Daily Office, and though I am partial to the 1662 in theory, in practice I find that it is simpler to use what my parish uses, which is the 1979. With the latter, that means 4-6 Psalms per day, 4 Scripture readings, 4 canticles, the Lord's Prayer (x 2), the Apostles' Creed (x 2), multiple repetitions of the Gloria Patri, etc. There's plenty of Scripture and tradition in there. Is the American Prayer Book somewhat truncated in comparison with the 1662? Yes, and that's always been the case. But there was great wisdom in C.S. Lewis' remarks that part of the job of the layman is to take what the Church gives you and make the best of it. And the situation's really not bad. An Episcopalian who uses the Daily Office and pairs that with whatever devotional practices best fit his/her vocation, obligations, etc., will find that it is an excellent means of spiritual formation and nourishment. That being said, one's only exposure to the Bible should not be the Daily Office or the weekly Eucharist. Reading it and studying it on one's own is very important. So is prayer throughout the day. John Wesley recommended saying the Collect for the previous Sunday every day at 9:00 am, noon, and 3:00 pm, an echo of the Catholic practice of saying the Angelus at this time, as well as the monastic hours of Terce, Sext, and None. The 1979 also allows the Daily Office to be expanded from a twofold form to a fourfold form (with Noonday prayer and Compline added)...my preference is the classic twofold format of Matins and Evensong. I know plenty of Episcopalians who do some version of this. That being said, I'm not blind to some of the problems in our midst but I have a much more optimistic view of these things long-term than many on this site do, apparently.
    https://dailyofficeanchorsociety.com/2016/09/26/solemnly-engaging-to-conform/
     
  8. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps you could delineate more precisely what you do believe is inspired about the Bible. Or in other words, in what manner do you view its inspiration? It appears that you don't believe the very words to be inspired per se. Do you think that only the general ideas conveyed are inspired, or what? We need your definition.
     
  9. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    Scripture was not ‘written’ by the Holy Ghost. And there is no evidence that irrefutably establishes that as a FACT. WE are discussing theological concepts and the Holy Ghost does not write with a pen and ink on papyrus, parchment or paper. The Holy Ghost ‘inspired’ the writers of Holy Writ, we have that on Apostolic Authority in scripture itself, and that 'inspiration' was not by any means the ‘automatic writing’, so often faked by mediums and charlatans in a trance like state.

    It was the inspired thoughts and efforts of real persons with real emotions, ideas, differing writing styles, vocabularies, places and times of authorship, reasons and intent for writing and a host of other human characteristics. Most of them most certainly did not consider themselves ‘inspired’ at the time. It is only over the course of time that the canonical books of the Bible achieved the status of being ’inspired by God' and it was The Church which did the selecting of the works that IT considered 'inspired', under what it believed to be the Holy Spirit’s guidance.

    Let’s have less of the sloppy sentences implying that there is ‘proof’ of God’s authorship of The Bible. The truth is that God has provided no such ’proof’, and is unlikely to provide such proof, for His own good reasons.

    Salvation depends on FAITH, not on some faked degree of supposed certainty that every word you read in your Bible has come to you from God. THAT is bibliomancy of the most hideous kind, and has led many into serious error, thinking they have had direct guidance from God to do whatever their defective intellects tell them God is saying to them, through the inspired scriptures. Just because they have been programmed into believing that the Bible was written by God.

    OVERSEEN and ‘INSPIRED’ by God yes, the Bible is inspired, but not written by God’s pen and ink. The only words we are told that Jesus WROTE were written on the ground and no one knows what they actually were. John 8:5-11. If the written word of God was essential to mankind’s salvation, then Jesus would have written as much as Moses and the prophets, no less.
    .
     
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  10. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    You were replying to (or at least quoted) Stalwart's 'skyscraper' comment, but somehow you attributed it to me. I'm more of a bottom-floor man, myself... :laugh:

    So, okay, you believe that the writers were 'inspired' in the sense that they got some bright ideas. And later on, some churchmen expanded on this and declared that those writings were 'inspired by God.' But when they were first written, they really weren't 'inspired by God.' Does that sum it up correctly?
     
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  11. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

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    Sorry about that Rexlion. I can't imagine how that happened. I must have messed up with my cut and pasting. I didn't actually mean to atttribute my comments to anyone in particular, being of a general nature.

    None of us should build our houses on the sand, but some do. Even Biblical inerrantists.
    .
     
  12. Stalwart

    Stalwart Well-Known Member Anglican

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    So … then you did say that you didn’t see the Bible as inspired. What other kind of inspiration is there? That was the only sort of inspiration I was invoking.

    It’s simple: do you believe that the writing of the Bible was accomplished by a direct action of the Holy Ghost, through the various apostles and prophets?



    It is the Anglican view that the Church is the keeper of the holy writ, and has a unique responsibility to interpret Scripture. So no difference on that front.

    The question here is not whether this or that verse is supernatural, but rather, whether any verse is supernatural. Or if it really is just simply some archeological narrative from a bronze age people.

    The teaching authority of the Church is not capable of forcing us to accept that fact, because people would have to first accept the authority of the Church.

    The authority of the Church derives from the Scriptures, not the other way around (or it derives from the authority of Scriptures and Tradition as in Rome; which doubles their problem).

    So the Church is true only if the Scriptures are true. Rome is subject to that no less than everyone else (how could it be otherwise? Be authoritative even if the Bible were a fiction? Impossible).
     
  13. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    Technically, if an action is “direct”, it is not done “through” someone/something else; and if an action is done “through” someone/something else, then it is not “direct”. So there is an ambiguity in the form of the question. The ambiguity notwithstanding, for charity’s sake I will try to give an answer, though I don’t have much confidence this attempt will meet with any more favor than the previous ones… If you’re asking me if I affirm a dictation view of inspiration, then the answer is “No”. If you’re asking me if I assent to every single passage as true or good in an unqualified sense, then my answer is also “No”. On the other hand, if you’re asking me if the biblical writers were inwardly moved - “inspired” in the everyday sense of the word - I would say Yes. If you’re asking me if the Bible gives us reliable information about God when it is taken as a whole, then I would also say Yes. What the historic Confessions have to say on the subject - especially the older Confessions - isn’t nearly as specific as what the Fundamentalist/Modernist Controversy demanded, which is part of the reason, I think, why Anglicanism has historically been tolerant of a wide variety of views on the subject.
     
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  14. ZachT

    ZachT Well-Known Member

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    To be honest I'm failing to see anything beyond a semantic difference between what you're describing and the word 'written'. I think it is fine to say "scripture was written by God", even if God didn't literally pick up a pen and write it, nor put a prophet into a trance and write it actively using a human being as a literal pen.

    I take your point that some misunderstand what 'written' means, and so believe God's involvement in the scriptures was more direct - leading to thinking such as there are no individual authors with distinct writing styles and flaws - but I'm not convinced Stalwart carries that misunderstanding. Stalwart says immediately before your quote that scripture can contain errors, and different genres. Surely we have enough we disagree on to fill out a full thread, we don't need to start arguing on the choice of specific words.
     
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  15. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

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    With respect @ZachT I very mush see the difference. It is the difference between scripture being the 'record of revelation' and scripture being 'the revelation'.

    Article VI. Of the Sufficiency of the Holy Scriptures for Salvation.
    Holy Scripture containeth all things necessary to salvation: so that whatsoever is not read therein, nor may be proved thereby, is not to be required of any man, that it should be believed as an article of the Faith, or be thought requisite or necessary to salvation. In the name of the Holy Scripture we do understand those canonical Books of the Old and New Testament, of whose authority was never any doubt in the Church.​

    This article of our faith is, in my view, well constructed. The notion of canonicity, is that scripture is the rule of faith by which we measure other things. This is not an easy road. Think of the dilemma that confronted Bonhoeffer when the idea of killing Hitler confronted him. Scripture has an impressive place for us, however we do not help ourselves, scripture or others by arguing a position which more than than what we are presented with in the article.

    Article II. Of the Word or Son of God, which was made very Man.
    The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father, took Man's nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin, of her substance: so that two whole and perfect Natures, that is to say, the Godhead and Manhood, were joined together in one Person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God, and very Man; who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile his Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for actual sins of men

    Article XX. Of the Authority of the Church.

    The Church hath power to decree Rites or Ceremonies, and authority in Controversies of Faith: and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain any thing that is contrary to God's Word written, neither may it so expound one place of Scripture, that it be repugnant to another. Wherefore, although the Church be a witness and a keeper of Holy Writ, yet, as it ought not to decree any thing against the same, so besides the same ought it not to enforce any thing to be believed for necessity of Salvation.​

    Article XX has been discussed in this forum previously. There are three references to the Bible here, 'God's Word written', 'Scripture', and 'Holy Writ'. I take the view that in keeping with the linguistic character of the document, three different terms are used rather than simple repetition. The term 'God's Word written', is to clarify the distinction between God's Word written and God's Word incarnate, rather than to affirm a position in relation to Holy Scripture which was set forth in Article VI.

    I wouldn't bother making an issue of what for many is simply a semantic point, save to the enormous damage I see done to folk by those who take a seemingly Islamic approach to the Christian Scriptures.
     
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  16. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Bingo! Now we're getting somewhere. I've highlighted the key statements in your post. Now I can see why you've brushed aside much of our reasoning. To you, our scripture-based reasoning doesn't connect with your view of scripture. Not at all.

    I see this as a known error. But the kicker is this: my normal response to a known error would be to quote scriptures that show it to be error, but with you (and, I think, with Tiffy) that would be an exercise in futility since you would not be convinced by that which you do not regard as God-breathed.

    The position you take is a very convenient and flexible one. It leaves you free to accept or reject whatever parts you deem correct or incorrect, accurate or inaccurate, revelatory or non-revelatory. You are truly the arbiter of your Bible. Its authority is subject to your own intellect and judgment.
     
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  17. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    Botolph, a question concerning Article VI: It states that "whatsoever is not read" in the Scriptures "is not to be required of any man."
    Is the converse true? The converse would be this: whatsoever is read in the Scriptures is to be required of every man (or, at least, every Anglican). What say ye?
     
  18. Ananias

    Ananias Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I always point to discussions like this when people tell me that the Christian liberal/conservative split isn't a real thing. All you have to do is read the past couple of pages to understand that it absolutely is a real thing, and it has real theological implications.

    I learned my theology from J. I. Packer before I was ever formally received into the Anglican church. Like him, I am an evangelical Protestant low church Christian. I affirm the Anglican 39 articles of religion, and I find nothing to disagree with in ACNA's 2019 BCP in terms of theology or church practice. I also affirm the Chicago Statement on biblical inerrancy (of which Rev. Packer was both a committee member and a signatory). I think the purest expression of Biblical fealty is found in the writings of Jonathan Edwards and John Owen. If all this makes me a "fundamentalist", I wear the mantle happily for I am in very good company.

    It's an oddity to me that all these things separate me from many Anglicans of the CofE/TEC tradition, and this separation is never so glaring as it is when discussing the issue of the inerrancy of Scripture. Just consider the state of the Christian church today -- no matter the denomination -- and ask yourself honestly if you think this wreckage is due to taking the Bible too literally. There is no Biblical argument for women's ordination or accepting practicing homosexuals into the clergy, yet here we are. It's not so much a misreading or misinterpreting of Scripture so much as a willful disregarding of Scripture when it comes into conflict with secular morals, mores, or beliefs.

    This nit-picking about whether Adam was really created as-is by God in 4004 BC or whatever is a waste of time. The real question, the one we should be discussing, is this: Is the Bible the supreme authority in our lives as Christians? Does the Bible guide us in our ethical, moral, and secular decision-making? Are we bound by conscience to obey Biblical injunctions even when they run contrary to the culture or even civil law? Is the Bible true?

    If the answer is anything other than "yes" (and that includes "yes, but...") to those questions, then we have identified the root of our problem and should be discussing that and not whether Noah could really fit all the animals into the ark or whether God took seven literal days to create the cosmos.
     
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  19. Invictus

    Invictus Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn’t characterize it that way, but it is what it is.
     
  20. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

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    For what it's worth, an article on the genetics issue:
    https://today.bju.edu/perspective/were-adam-and-eve-real-people/

    You're right. I can see now that the Adam issue is just a "canary in the coal mine." And we have determined that the canary is deceased! :facepalm:

    Just one year ago I started a thread on Biblican inerrancy. The upshot was, certain forum members maintained that "inspired word of God" is a more robust term than "inerrant" or "infallible." I think this current thread conclusively proves otherwise!
     
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