I think we have a basic misunderstanding here. I'll respond to a few points in turn.
:Yes it does come from a culture, place and time. Valid hermeneutics pays attention to the culture, place and time of a text, otherwise it would very often be virtually impossible to understand an author's intent.
My point wasn't about the culture, place and time of the text, but rather the culture place and time of the decision of how to interpret the text. As I've said. Once we understand the authors intent, this doesn't mean that that intent was correct, as I've shown in a couple of places earlier.
:Above all, I cannot practice hermeneutics properly if I insist that because I personally know how wrong abortion is, that Scripture could never ever talk about abortion positively. I can't know that until I first look at the text.
I agree with this. My main point in this statement is that many Bibles have translations that are likely changed to fit with an already held theology.
:The first extensive discussions of epistemology occurred in Ancient Greece. No other culture discusses it that early with the same level of depth or explanation. Many doctrines of the Christian church were created by combining Greek philosophical assumptions with Hebrew revelation.
I understand this. But then.... why is so much of our modern theology so different from what some of those early Greeks are saying? Which kind of leads to my point. I wasn't saying that the Bible couldn't be discerened or understood. I was saying that reading a part of the Bible through the lense of the epistemology, for instance the story of the flood, is problematic, because we might be able to glean the intentions of the author in writing it and what the author truly believed. But we cannot get from that text whether or not the author was right. That was my point.
By the way. A lot of those early Greek Christians didn't take some of these OT parts of the Bible literally. I believe it was Gregory Naziansus (or possibly Gregory of Nicea, I'd have to look it up) who said something along the lines that if some of those OT texts were to be taken literally the apostles would have never allowed them into the Bible.
:Determining the intent & meaning of the author does not depend on believing that a text was inspired. Hermeneutics can be practiced correctly even by those who do not believe the text was inspired.
Whether or not we think the text was inspired has a large impact on how we interpret it though. No? So, again, to my point, Epistemology can tell us the authors intent, but how far can that help us in a certain context?
:"Horrific" is rather strong, but yes, there are faults to many different translations.
Horrific, fits just about right with me.
:I've read a few of these guys. Let's just say they are not very precise with the Greek language and they didn't seem to care about any church traditions either.
Some of those whom I've read are fluent in Greek and know the "tradition" and history of the church well enough to know that 1'st Timothy was a disputed text amongst some of the Ante-Nicene Christians and it is questionable how valid it is due to Constantine's influences on the canon.
But anyhow. You could be right on this interpretation. Again. It doesn't matter because of point 1.
:Epistemology is a matter of philosophy.
This was my point. Again. I'm not saying that the Bible can't be interpreted as much as I was saying that using Epistemology to help discover the authors intentions doesn't help if the authors intentions were wrong.
Of course. Knowing that the authors intentions were wrong can help us theologically. For instance. If one was to conclude that the authors intentions were to say that God caused the flood and other genocides, and yet that the author was very wrong in this and wrote it down anyways. Then this could lead us to the understanding that God was patient and kind with these people, even thought they had made terrible false accusations towards him.
:For anyone who believes in the Holy Spirit, and I do, it is quite easy to believe that He can use just about anything to guide someone to the truth. In other words, a Biblical scholar could even interpret Scripture completely wrong, come up with some ridiculous allegorical meaning, and the Holy Spirit could still use that bad interpretation to do some good.
:I have difficulty understanding what you mean by our being at the “whims of people who are in more powerful positions than we are.”
I mean that we have those "above" us that "tell" us what to think. Whether its intentionally or not. A good example is Bible translators who translate them according to their belief systems. But there are others.
:Not every tradition enslaves. Some traditions, especially those inherent in grammar and language, are what make thinking and theology possible in the first place.
I ment being enslaved to a theological tradition that is saying things contrary to what the Holy Spirit is "speaking", which can happen for various reasons. The chief of which is peer pressure and fear.
: As far as “pagan influences” go, if you count Plato or Aristotle or the like as “pagan influences” then I don’t think the church traditionally regards a “pagan influence” as necessarily wrong.
Pagan influences are a tricky thing. I don't think that everything amongst the "pagan" groups was wrong. I actually happen to think that there was stuff amongst the mid-Eastern pagans that were more off from Hebrew/primitive Christian thought in some ways than can be found in the far east, Celtic, or Aboriginal peoples.
That being said. I believe that part of the problem here IS the influences of Platonic thought, to some degree. Being the idea of perfection, which led to the idea of holiness as perfection, and Adam and Eve being "perfect" in the garden of Eden. Hebrew understanding equates holiness as something more akin to Wholeness connected to hospitality and compassion.
This has a huge impact on how different doctrines would develop, especially in the Western church. It has a huge understanding of our Holy God.
It would also lead to a different view of our leanings towards things like the flood story. Does God need to send the flood because he's a "Holy" (in the sense of perfect) God and therefore must punish sin? That's a *very* different view than one would take if they interpreted "holiness" through the Hebrew lense that I had mentioned.
: find trying to distinguish the Holy Spirit from traditions or “pagan influences” worrying, particularly because there is no good reason to conclude that the Holy Spirit doesn’t use them also.
I never said that Holy Spirit can't use traditions or "pagan influences", at least to a certain degree. I said that we're in trouble without following and listening to Holy Spirit in our understanding of the faith. If we don't need the Holy Spirit, then what would be the point of God sending it, and calling Holy Spirit our "helper." The term "helper" means that we need some help... no?
My point here is, that even if Holy Spirit is working through traditions, or pagan influences to a certain degree, it still is Holy Spirit that is working, being what I've said that we need in order to help us understand the faith.
This fits with what I've been saying about the OT and the idea that God was working in a pagan influenced people as part of his means of bringing them out of paganism. It also fits with what I was saying about Holy Spirit helping us out of our stinking thinking.
:He has to expect us to think. And the very act of thinking requires some school of epistemology.
I agree that we need to think. I'm all for thinking this stuff through. My point wasn't against thinking. It was against the idea that understanding the authors intention in the text directly leads to us understanding what the text is saying (EDIT: meaning how to interpret what the Bible and God is actually saying as a whole.) This is how your comments on this read to me.
So far as Holy Spirit goes. I don't understand how anyone could think that we can do this business of faith, or interpreting the Bible without help of Holy Spirit. So much of our growing understanding of God comes in part by Holy Spirit teaching us that something that we've believed, or have been taught by others was incorrect. (whether it be now, or in the past as far back as Paul's "illumination".)
I've never heard of a person who has come out of various lies in Christianity except through the help of the Holy Spirit, having come out of some sort of relationship with God. I'm all for intellectualism. I'm mean, goodness, I'm a member of the Torr society. But I would never ever think that humanity can figure this stuff out without Holy Spirit's help.
:The main point I disagree with is this idea that merely because Scriptural texts may have contradictions (or cultural influences) that we somehow need the Holy Spirit to tell us what a text really means.)
We need Holy Spirit to help us to sort through some of the junk in order that we can even be in the place to be able to interpret the text. Most Christians (arguably all) just believe a whole lot (sure not all) of what they are told to believe, have been raised to believe, or have believed until Holy Spirt has touched on them in some way. Which of course flows out of their relationship with Christ. Maybe you've met, are, or heard of someone that hasn't had this. I haven't. Just to make myself clear, I think this works through synergy, again coming out of relationship of at least some sorts.
This isn't due to the fact that they can't reason necessarily when it comes to understanding the Bible (although it has been debated as to how far our reason can take us out of previous beliefs - I actually DO have a higher view of reason than some), but its largely due to the fact that, so far as religion and this God stuff goes, peoples beliefs are all to often connected to fear, even if its just fear of change due to the fear of being wrong. Most often its fear of being a "heretic" or falling out of favour with God or the church in some way. Coming to a new understanding of a scriptural text, especially a drastically new understanding, is a HUGE step for people. I'm not sure if they can do it by intellect alone. Even if its just the comfort and encouragement Holy Spirit can give that they are on the right track, or aren't going to be "punished" by God.
And lets not forget, that there are demonic influences at play trying to deceive us and keep us in lies. Coming out of the many twisted plans and tricks of deception by Intellect alone without the help of Holy Spirit is a mighty big task. It seems obvious to me that this would include how we were to interpret the Bible and the faith. Also, the demons know quite well how to trip up the intellectuals.
Which is one of the reasons why some of this theology that is purely based on intellectualism in Biblical interpretation is so off base. IMO.
Edited by Attica, 05 April 2014 - 10:51 PM.