Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Orthodoxy Changes

I think it obvious that what goes by the name of orthodoxy changes over time.

Three examples:
1. Protestantism sprang from Catholicism, and when it did orthodoxy split and thus changed for at least one group (if not the other).

2. Early in its history, the Christian church split and gave rise to the Catholic and Orthodox branches. This split was precipitated by a divergence in doctrine; and that divergence, since it followed what before had been unanimity, implied a change in orthodoxy (if not for both, then at least for one branch).

3. When one compares the doctrines of today's Southern Baptist church to those that they held before, one finds a significant shift. Perhaps it is enough if we consider only these two points of difference: the role of women in the church, and the Church's attitude to non-whites.

From my point of view, I find it absolutely unremarkable that orthodoxy changes. Indeed it's exactly what I would have expected. Scripture and tradition must be interpreted, and humans can never agree about how to get it right. Thus if you tell me that you that you and and your sect know just what God has said, I most certainly won't believe you that do. It's not that I'll believe that what you attribute to God isn't really what He said. As to that, I have no opinion.*  But I most certainly will not believe that you know God as you say you do. Why? Orthodoxy changes. Ergo, to humans the truth in these matters isn't clear. Ergo, to you the truth isn't clear.

*It's not quite right that I have opinion. The argument below seems to me to carry some weight:
If God speaks to us, he'd make sure that we hear what he has to say and that we get the message right.
But if he did that, there'd be no disagreements about what God says - at least not among those who sincerely and honestly seek the truth.
However, there are disagreements, even among the sincere and honest.
Thus God doesn't speak to us (at least not in the way that most folks seem to think).

Monday, February 20, 2012

To Those Who Claim that Scripture is Inerrant

Good people of deep faith differ in their interpretation of Scripture. When you speak to me of the truth of the Gospel, I know that you mean your interpretation; and I know that you differ in that interpretation from others who have just as much right to their view as you do to yours. I do not claim to know that your interpretation is wrong. I claim only to know that it is, like all the others, an interpretation, and as such is not immune from error. God cannot err (if in fact there is a God). But when He speaks to us (if in fact he does), we can misunderstand; and thus the impossibility that God err does not imply that we cannot err when we report what we believe God has said.

You are not glass; I can think of no reason to suppose that God's word passes through you unchanged. You interpret, as do we all; and when you do, you can introduce error.

God's word is infallible. But your knowledge of what that word is - that is far from infallible. You speak with your own voice, not God's.