conversation starter

I’ve been preparing tonight’s topic for Deepening:  ‘What do we mean when we say God inspires scripture?’.   We’re starting (and perhaps ending) with a True/ False game.  I offer it here for your use or amusement.

The idea is to do this in pairs — some some of the words are deliberately ambiguous in order to stir debate.

True/ False?

  1. scripture is inspired by God
  2. all the words of scripture are inspired by God
  3. God dictated the words of scripture
  4. scripture is the word of God
  5. scripture contains God’s words
  6. scripture is the only place we can read God’s word
  7. the bible tells us what we must believe
  8. the bible tells us what me must do
  9. the bible gives us stories about God that shape what we believe and do
  10. the bible offers us a framework for understanding God, ourselves and the world
  11. for any problem, there is an answer in the bible
  12. the bible shows us how we should live
  13. every story of the bible shows us how we should live
  14. some stories in the bible tell us more about the culture of the time when they were written than they do about God.
  15. some of what the bible says is wrong
  16. some of what the bible says should not form the basis for our moral code today
  17. there are no contradictions in the bible
  18. thing that appear contradictory in scripture can be reconciled
  19. some stories conflict with other stories in the bible
  20. to honour scripture we must take it literally
  21. to honour scripture we must interpret it wisely
  22. every word of the bible is true
  23. every word of the bible is meaningful
  24. we can ignore parts of the Old Testament, but must apply all the teachings of the New Testament
  25. when I read the bible, I expect to meet God and hear what he is saying today

3 thoughts on “conversation starter

  1. ooooh fun fun fun

    1 true 2 false 3 very false 4 false 5 true 6 false 7 false 8 fairly true 9 true 10 true 11 false, possibly very false 12 true 13 false 14 true 15 true 16 true 17 false 18 surprisingly sometimes true 19 true 20 very false 21true 22false 23 weasel words 24 false 25 very very true.

  2. * scripture is inspired by God

    Scripture as the body of text or the process by which text becomes regarded?

    * all the words of scripture are inspired by God

    Altogether collectively, maybe. If the point of the difference of the question is to individualise them, definitely not.

    * God dictated the words of scripture

    No way.

    * scripture is the word of God

    Yes and no. If your understanding of scripture sets some of the species apart from the rest, then that is not. However, if God is approached as “the sum of all experience”, then some people’s subset of that experience is a product of the same.

    * scripture contains God’s words

    If you mean God is some distinct entity that has produced words that are directly represented in the Bible, then no.

    * scripture is the only place we can read God’s word

    Gibberish, fortunately 🙂

    * the bible tells us what we must believe

    No chance. It doesn’t *tell* us much, if anything.

    * the bible tells us what me must do

    No. Not in any direct sense.

    * the bible gives us stories about God that shape what we believe and do

    This may be true; more to the point, as people of a particular faith, we are consciously choosing to adopt the bible’s stories as our own, to say “they resonate with us in some ways”.

    * the bible offers us a framework for understanding God, ourselves and the world

    It might, but I don’t think that’s its primary purpose.

    * for any problem, there is an answer in the bible

    How do I turn this machine off?

    And that’s just the trivial answer. What gives with the homo-sapiens-centrism?
    I’ll pin this statement here, as most appropriate: I don’t see why religion, church and scripture should be about relationships of objects typically 1-2m tall on planet Earth only – human-interest stories in the sphere of socio-psychology. Show me a theology that works on other scales, God in and through subatomic physics and cosmology as well, please.

    * the bible shows us how we should live

    As a product of a committee seeking to freeze debate by mob-violence? No thanks!

    * every story of the bible shows us how we should live

    Even less convinced.

    * some stories in the bible tell us more about the culture of the time when they were written than they do about God.

    Only some of them? I’d say problems of authoriship, editorship and agenda and bias and spin run through the entire bible.

    * some of what the bible says is wrong

    That depends if it *says* anything. (It’s not intrinsically active; this is the problem of interpretation.)

    * some of what the bible says should not form the basis for our moral code today

    If it says anything, then absolutely.

    * there are no contradictions in the bible

    Demonstrably false.

    * thing that appear contradictory in scripture can be reconciled

    Reconciled is possibly not the best word for it; the method of reconciliation is not to build huge (world-)models but rather to (attempt to) understand the history, evolution and purpose of the texts

    * some stories conflict with other stories in the bible

    Absolutely.

    * to honour scripture we must take it literally

    That’s not honouring anything, merely denying its origins where rabbis played bind & loose with their text that’s now in our OT, and enjoyed doing so.

    * to honour scripture we must interpret it wisely

    Wisely and charitably.

    * every word of the bible is true

    Not the point?

    * every word of the bible is meaningful

    Maybe. I particularly like the “and” in Titus 2:13, for example…

    * we can ignore parts of the Old Testament, but must apply all the teachings of the New Testament

    I wouldn’t look at it like that. “Ignore” is the wrong word. Especially the ignore-OT/apply-all-NT duality is unhelpful. Rather, keep a critical eye open on all the texts, asking “what is this? who wrote it, and when? for why was it written?”, looking much deeper than the face-value reading and wider than either verse or chapter for context.

    * when I read the bible, I expect to meet God and hear what he is saying today

    What is this “he”?

    I’d like to add three positive ways to read the bible. One, as literature: it’s a body of text. Following Borg, 2 and 3 are `historically’ (put everything on a historical time-axis for maximum critical thinking and analysis) and `metaphorically’ (for the stories one can take from it, and sharing and remembering of group-experience). All of these should free our ability to live fully and move and have our being in God in our culture today.

  3. And yes, “ooh fun fun”. You could have lots of fun answering these questions in the styles of your average local evangelical pastor, ++Rowan or Akinola…

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s