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Disagreeing with the Bible


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#1 Algernon

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Posted 14 August 2013 - 11:12 PM

Can a Christian hold an opinion contrary to a biblical teaching, or is everything in the Bible dogma that must be believed?

 

Thanks

A



#2 Lakis Papas

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 12:46 AM

First, let me quote two passages in the Bible for two people who did not believe in the preaching of the Apostle Paul:
 
Acts 24:24-26

 

And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, “Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you.” Meanwhile he also hoped that money would be given him by Paul, that he might release him. Therefore he sent for him more often and conversed with him.

 

 
Acts 26:22-24
 

(St paul is speaking) "Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come— that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.” Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!”

 

Felix, when he heard about judgment was afraid for himself. He was like some of us, who deny what is written in the gospel because of our many sins and on that induced fear.
 
On the other hand, Festus was a thinker, and could not accept what was neutralizing the rationale processing of his brain. When he heard of resurrection he reacted logically.
 
For one of these two reasons, one can not accept a Biblical teaching. There is also a third reason: when the "biblical teaching" is a misinterpretation of christian faith. Then, the person who denies the alleged "biblical teaching" does rightly.
 
So, my answer is "on what basis one denies a Biblical teaching?"

Edited by Lakis Papas, 15 August 2013 - 12:47 AM.


#3 Algernon

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 01:05 AM

My issue is not with anything that I would call a central doctrine of the Faith.

However...........

 

St Paul wrote that "the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil." (1Tim 6:10)

 

Either, I don't agree (people commit evil all the time when money is clearly not a motivation), or there is another understanding of this passage.

 

Is St Paul using a figure of speech (My wife just told me that "we have all kinds of mustard in the fridge."). Or is this something we can disagree with him on? Or is there something else going on here?

 

Thanks.

A



#4 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 01:39 AM

"All kinds" is not the same as "every kind". I do "all kinds" of things but that does not mean I do everything.

 

If he said "Love of money is the THE root of ALL evil" that would be different (although it is often how it is quoted) and I would probably disagree with that as well.

 

Herman



#5 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 05:42 AM

Love of money NOT money. Love of money = coveteousness

Love of money implies a selfish person, one who would do anything to acquire more and more money. One who is reluctant to give some of his money to others who need it. etc. etc.



http://en.wikipedia....erty_and_wealth


VII. 2. Wealth cannot make man happy. The Lord Jesus Christ warns: «Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth» (Lk. 12:15). The pursuit of wealth makes a baneful impact on the spiritual condition of a person and can lead him to complete degradation. St. Paul points out that «they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things» (1 Tim. 6:9-11).

#6 Lakis Papas

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 11:24 AM

From Gerontikon (collection of saying of elders):

 

Abba Isaiah once was asked:  What is avarice?

 

And he responded: Not to believe that our God takes care of you, and to despair of God's promises, and to cherish the expansion.



#7 Algernon

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 11:49 AM

"All kinds" is not the same as "every kind". I do "all kinds" of things but that does not mean I do everything.

 

If he said "Love of money is the THE root of ALL evil" that would be different (although it is often how it is quoted) and I would probably disagree with that as well.

 

Herman

That's what I figured. Thanks.

 

Love of money NOT money. Love of money = coveteousness

Love of money implies a selfish person, one who would do anything to acquire more and more money. One who is reluctant to give some of his money to others who need it. etc. etc.



http://en.wikipedia....erty_and_wealth


VII. 2. Wealth cannot make man happy. The Lord Jesus Christ warns: «Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth» (Lk. 12:15). The pursuit of wealth makes a baneful impact on the spiritual condition of a person and can lead him to complete degradation. St. Paul points out that «they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. But thou, O man of God, flee these things» (1 Tim. 6:9-11).

I agree that the love of money--or covetousness--is the root of many kinds of evil (and I wish St Paul had worded it that way). My point is that it is not the root of all kinds of evil. For example, people don't rape children because there's money in it for them. I would say that love of self indulgence, not money, is the root of all evil.



#8 Owen Jones

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 01:11 PM

First of all, the Bible is not a dogmatic treatise.  It is a witness.  Nor is it, strictly speaking, a history, although it contains history.  So it is not a book of historical facts designed to prove a point, although that is certainly part of it.  The issue in a trial when a witness takes the stand is this:  is he credible?  Can you make an informed judgment about the guilt or innocence of the accused based on the credibility of the witnesses presented?  Does their testimony ring true?  In the case of a person reading and studying the Bible, it is obviously a little different than being on a jury, but if you approach either from a prior standpoint of critical doubt, then you are not going about it the right way.  The judge is going to instruct jurors to be unbiased and objective and to keep an open mind, not to pre-judge the outcome. 

 

Now, in the case of the Biblical witness, it is not designed to speak to your logical faculties, although they play a part certainly.  But it is designed to speak to your heart.  It is your heart (nous) that is responding, not your logic.  It is not that the Bible negates logic or is opposed to the use of logic, but that it is speaking to a higher faculty than logic, which is the heart.  So the question is, how is your heart responding?  And in the case cited above with Festus, from a Christian perspective, there is something wrong with the functioning of his nous, if he even has one. 

 

So if you find yourself in a position of thinking that you know better than what the Bible says, look first for the answer to your dilemma within yourself.  Examine yourself and ask yourself if your heart is damaged or inoperable. 



#9 Matthew

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 03:10 PM

This is a good question.

 

I recently heard someone misuse Luke 19:27.  This is at the end of the lesser of the two Parables of the Talents.  The words are spoken by Jesus, but as the words of the "man of noble birth" and "master of his servants."  But He says (NIV): "But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me."

 

I understand that this is a parable.  But I'm uneasy about Jesus really advocating, even metaphorically, a master's retributive slaughter of his servants.

 

Am I misunderstanding?  Or do I disagree with the Bible?

 

Matthew



#10 Father David Moser

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 04:10 PM

But He says (NIV): ...
 
Am I misunderstanding?  Or do I disagree with the Bible?
 
Matthew

Or perhaps yous simply disagree with the agenda of the protestant translators of the NIV, or maybe you just disagree with what you think is being said.. It might be better if, before deciding whether or not you "agree" with the Bible, you go to the Fathers to try and understand what the meaning of what is being said.  The context of the Bible is the Church and anytime you take the Scripture out of its proper context, you will misunderstand it to some degree and thus it is impossible to "agree" or "disagree" with the Bible, without first knowing what it is the the Bible says.

 

And to the original question, "Can a Christian hold an opinion contrary to a biblical teaching", given the above, the answer would be no because the Bible is much more than just words on a page - it is the written testament of the Church and so must be understood within the context of the Church.  If you disagree with the Church, then you are not part of her.  Again, a caveat: There are many varying and even opposing opinions within the Church which are not "the teaching of the Church" or "Biblical teaching" but simply opinions and these do not conflict with the teaching of the Church and can easily coexist. 


Fr David



#11 Effie Ganatsios

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 05:58 PM

That's what I figured. Thanks.
 
I agree that the love of money--or covetousness--is the root of many kinds of evil (and I wish St Paul had worded it that way). My point is that it is not the root of all kinds of evil. For example, people don't rape children because there's money in it for them. I would say that love of self indulgence, not money, is the root of all evil.

What about love of self above all others. Covetousness would be included in this. I want what he has for me because I love myself more than anyone else, including God. If I want to rape children I will because I have to satisfy myself - because I love myself above all others and because these children are nothing to me.

#12 Herman Blaydoe

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Posted 15 August 2013 - 09:04 PM

Actually it is not really about whether or not you "disagree" with "the Bible", what  you are really doing is simply failing to understand what Holy Scripture is trying to tell you, as opposed to what someone else thinks it means. You can certainly disagree with that, especially when it is wrong!

 

There is much within Holy Scripture that is, indeed, hard to accept, but the Truth is the Truth, whether we like it or not, and we can either accept it, or continue to disagree with it, in which case our journey to salvation is going to be a bit longer and bumpier. When I come across a verse that I find hard to accept,  I do not reject it outright. I assume and pray that God will reveal His Wisdom that I might understand what is really being communicated, so that I can figure out how it applies to my spiritual journey.

 

As Fr. David says, Holy Scripture can really only be properly understood within the context of the worshipping Church, and really nowhere else. I believe it is St. Theophan the Recluse who recommends that Christians not yet mature in their faith concentrate on reading the lives of the saints. In these hagiographies we read specific examples of applied theology, how Holy Scripture inspired and shaped their holy lives. As we grow in maturity, we read the writings of the Holy Fathers of the Church, which help us understand the context, the general application to real-world situations of the meaning of Holy Scripture. Then, once we have become grounded in the Fathers and the hymnody and prayers of the worshipping Church, THEN we can properly undertake the reading and the application directly within ourselves the understanding of Holy Scripture.

 

While not everyone may agree with this approach, I do suspect that most will agree that a balance of hagiography and patristics, prayer and worship, is certainly necessary before we start to "agree" or "disagree" with Holy Scripture.



#13 Lakis Papas

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 01:22 AM

Let me provide another reading for the apostolic passage.
 
The Greek text is: ριζα γαρ παντων των κακων εστιν η φιλαργυρια -> for a root of all the evils is the love of money
 
The full phrase of st Paul, in literal translation, is the following: and those wishing to be rich, do fall into temptation and a snare, and many desires, foolish and hurtful, that sink men into ruin and destruction, for a root of all the evils is the love of money, which certain longing for did go astray from the faith, and themselves did pierce through with many sorrows
 
Let me put this phrase in another context: my father drinks too much alcohol. Sometimes he is beating my mother. He has already been fired from his job. He does not care for his children. Those who drink destroy themselves, their families, their careers, for the root of all evils is love for alcohol, which certain longing for did lost sobriety and themselves did pierce through with many sorrows.
 
My point is that sometimes when we say "all", we limit "all" in a context of a microenvironment. When we talk about the evil effects of alcohol in a particular family, then "all evils" are limited to the specific evils in this given situation. I think, in the same way, st Paul uses the phrase "all evils" by reducing the meaning of his words within the framework already set, starting at verse 5 and onwards
 
In Greek language, even today, we use the expression "the root of all evils is Lakis", for a person (let's say Lakis) who is involved in a situation. With the expression "all evils" we declare the sole responsibility of the person for all evils that exist within the referred framework. "all evils" does not have a global meaning, it has a local perspective on all mentioned evils.

Edited by Lakis Papas, 16 August 2013 - 01:33 AM.


#14 Owen Jones

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 09:50 AM

thanks!  this certainly makes sense and I think it points to a general problem with the way "moderns" tend to interpret Scripture.  We tend to think in terms of intellectual abstractions whereas the Bible is concrete. 



#15 Algernon

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Posted 16 August 2013 - 08:09 PM

What about love of self above all others. Covetousness would be included in this. I want what he has for me because I love myself more than anyone else, including God. If I want to rape children I will because I have to satisfy myself - because I love myself above all others and because these children are nothing to me.

Right, I would think that covetousness would fall under the Love of Self heading.



#16 Anna Stickles

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Posted 17 August 2013 - 08:43 PM

This is a good question.

 

I recently heard someone misuse Luke 19:27.  This is at the end of the lesser of the two Parables of the Talents.  The words are spoken by Jesus, but as the words of the "man of noble birth" and "master of his servants."  But He says (NIV): "But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me."

 

I understand that this is a parable.  But I'm uneasy about Jesus really advocating, even metaphorically, a master's retributive slaughter of his servants.

 

Am I misunderstanding?  Or do I disagree with the Bible?

 

Matthew

Certainly the most straightforward understanding of this parable is that the master is indeed God and the servants who did not want him are the Jews, and that the parable is a prophecy.   Just looking historically we can see that indeed the Jews were slaughtered in the sacking of Jerusalem in 70 AD and have suffered much throughout the ages.

 

When we talk about retributive though I think we have to be careful. God is not passionate, he is not randomly, nor emotionally retributive.  St John Chrysostom talks much about the dangers of interpreting the Bible's references to God's actions or feelings in terms of our fallen human experience.   But certainly the whole history of the human race proves that indeed the King of the universe punishes sin.  "Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: severity toward those who have fallen, but God’s kindness toward you, provided you continue in his kindness; otherwise you also will be cut off.." says St Paul in Romans 11 talking of God's rejection of the Jews and acceptance of the Gentiles.

 

And why should we contemplate the severity of God?  St Paul gives us the answer. He says that when we look upon how God cuts off those who reject him (and we understand that being cut off from God leads to death) this teaches us humility. We do not become proud but stand in awe and godly fear, for if God did not spare the Jews, then we are warned that he will not spare us either if we stubbornly persist in rebellion.  But St Paul mixes his stern warning with hope, reminding us that those whom God has cut off can be grafted in again.

 

There is a quote I have read that maybe is relevant.

"The wrath of God is a perfection of the Divine character on which we need to meditate frequently. First that our hearts may be duly impressed by God's detestation of sin. We are ever prone to regard sin lightly, to gloss over its hideousness, to make excuses for it. ...Second to beget a true fear in our souls for God. 'Let us have grace whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: for our God is a consuming fire.' (Heb 12:28-9)  We  cannot serve God acceptably unless there is due reverence for His Awful Majesty and godly fear of His righteous anger. ... Third, to draw out our soul in fervent praise for having delivered us from 'the wrath to come'. 

 

It is good to remember though that godly fear and worldly fear are not the same thing. The first does what is described above - it brings repentance, reverence and thanksgiving.  Worldly fear though, oppresses and paralyzes the soul and brings darkness and death, not light and life.  (cf II Cor 7:8-11 talking in a similar vein about sorrow)

 

The direction of our effort then should not to be to disagree with the Bible, or try to re-interpret its clear teaching on God's wrath making it sound as if the words were saying something other then what the clear sense tells us,  but rather we should strive to cooperate with God in moving our own soul toward godly fear and away from worldliness.


Edited by Anna Stickles, 17 August 2013 - 08:51 PM.





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