Jehovah`s Witness/INERRANT WORD AND UPDATED INTERPRETATION
QUESTION: Hello Richard. I have an interesting subject that should bother every christian.
Hardcore christians as JWs or Evangelists believe that the Bible is the inerrant word of God. They say that there is a harmony between the writers of different ages. Jws and Evangelists insist that Adam, Abraham, Paul etc no matter their different cultures and times all believed and wrote the same things on cosmology, theology, anthropology. And the justification for this is that God never changes. But sadly I see that people are not sincere and interpret scriptures according to the dominant scientific view of their ages. Hardcore christians who believe the Earth goes round the Sun and is a sphere, will say that Scriptures said this exactly. If they lived in another age they would accept the dominant scientific view of that age. So you see the contradiction.
In this subject Im not going to prove or talk about why I believe in a certain cosmology. I will just tell you that I believe what ancient people believed(including the Jews). The Earth is stationary, it rests upon the chaotic waters of the Abyss and upon Hades. There is a glass up there in the sky that holds the upper waters and separate us from the heaven of heavens where is the throne of God. The firmament of the sky rests upon pillars(mountains). I also believe the Earth is flat and before the Flood there was one land covered by the Ocean, these were the ends of the Earth. Im not sure about all these beliefs, but Im quite sure the Earth is STATIONARY. One way or another, after doing investigation I found this was the view of the writers of the Bible. As I said people are frightened of modern science and try to find a way to say that the Scriptures agree with the science of today. They also say that these are poetic expressions, but these were not poetic back then, they are today for the unbelievers in ancient cosmology.
I dont believe that my beliefs on cosmology etc are inerrant and direct statements of God, but I feel there is much truth in them. Thats why in the past I expressed the opinion that we should not be dogmatic on cosmology, theology, nature of man, because I believe this is not the reason the Bible was written.
I also acknowledge that there is a variety of opinions in the Bible. For example Genesis 1 and Psalm 33 contain the egyptian thought that the World was created through speech. But Psalm 74 says that God fought with the primordial forces of disorder, He fought with the monsters of the sea. Remember that Revelation says also that there will be no more sea in the New World.
Of course we can mix opinions, but surely there will be errors. Thats why I believe only God knows the absolute truth on these matters and the Bible was written just for the salvation plan.
Anyway, lets say you fully disagree with me. Do you at least agree that some Christians update Bible's interpretation on these matters according to their age? I dont believe in evolution, but I believe that thoughts change through years. Only God holds the absolute knowledge.
ANSWER: Hi again Christaras,
This is, of course, a fascinating discussion. There are two points of view on "inerrancy" of the Bible. One is that the ideas of the Bible are inerrant and inspired of God. He just used humans to convey those ideas and the words they chose cause some "errant" discussions or apparent conflicts. The other thought is that God inspired the actual words used by the writers and each word, in its original language, was exactly what God wanted.
In my opinion, I believe the reality is a good bit of both. I agree with JWs that scripture interprets scripture. Seeing how words are used and in what context provides insight into its meaning. There are times, though, that problems seem to arise from different meanings. These are the times that I believe our own interpretations get in the way.
Science certainly has its place in the understanding of the Bible. There are very many things that are currently being discovered, particularly in archaeology, that validate the words of the Bible as well as many long-held interpretations. There are also some aspects of science that are encouraging us to re-evaluate our interpretations of certain Biblical narratives. There are, of course, scientific discoveries that don't seem to work at all with biblical understanding. Remember though, that scientific analysis is still incomplete and continues to modify itself in light of new analysis. There is no doubt that "current" scientific analysis has shaped biblical interpretation over time.
I would agree with you that only God knows the absolute truth on many matters within the Bible, but I would argue that it was written for more than just salvation's plan. There are so very many things in the Bible that teach us about life, living, history, etc. that aren't really under the umbrella of salvation. The Bible is a very valuable tool on a great many matters.
On a side note, having seen pictures of the planet Earth from space, I would have a hard time being convinced that it is flat. Are you referring to Pangea? As far as the Earth being stationary, that comes down to perspective. From the perspective of the person on Earth, it is stationary. From the perspective of outside the Earth, it is definitely moving. Science has certainly taken the movement of the earth in the context of what occurs in this solar system, galaxy, and universe.
It sounds to me like you have done a lot of reading and consideration. I encourage you to keep reading and considering new things. Your opinions will most likely fluctuate as you keep learning. Best of luck!
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QUESTION: Thanks. Yes, its more than the salvation and the overthrow of evil in the battle of good against evil.
It seems no sense that Earth(Land) was created as it is today. I mean...why would God create some land here, some land there, a piece here, a piece there? It seems earthquakes and floods have shaped what we see. Yes, I believe in Pangea that was encircled by the Ocean.
Ancient Jews believed this too. Then many things make sense, for example "ends of earth" or that the "Earth was divided".
I have a scientific book(Verses of Deus - Knockdown of Heliocentric Model) that proves through simple physics that Earth is stationary and rotation plus revolution are unproven assumptions and scenarios for the support of heliocentrism.
The writer believes in a spherical Earth. But I doubt that the OT people of the Bible had a view of a spherical Earth. Maybe some people in NT believed in spherical Earth.
I would say that my research in this area is average, so I certainly don't claim to be dogmatic on many things in this category. The idea of Pangea to me is a very interesting one, and one that I would like to read more about given the time. It would necessitate an adjustment of understanding regarding the amount of time allotted for the creation story through the flood though, and my mind can't quite fathom yet how it all fits together. I am not familiar with the book you referred to, but I am well-conditioned to believe that the Earth is not stationary. It would be very difficult for me to believe otherwise after all the things I have read. There is definitely a lot more to the story than what we see in the Bible. Therefore, I have no difficulty in proclaiming my ignorance on the subject and simply enjoying the research that others are doing. I do enjoy scholarly research, especially learning both sides of a discussion.