Friday, January 4, 2008

Bible is clear?

The Bible is clear...
In most of our lively discussions, my evangelist friend always insists on this every time he has a chance.
It goes without saying that he is a clear Sola Scriptura proponent, and basically what he is saying is:

“If Scripture is studied in its entirety and in its proper context, the truth can be easily determined.”

I have extreme difficulty in coming to terms with this statement. Let me attempt to gather all the premise behind this:

1. First of all, you have to be sufficiently literate in order to do this. And very patient too. The bible contains 73 books (ok, ok – lets just say 66 for purposes of illustration). Over a thousand chapters and 31,000++ verses. But if you’re persistent enough and really read it for some minutes daily, you’ll cover the entire book in a year. A tall order for couch potatoes whose idea of serious reading is limited to newspaper headlines, sports pages, and TV programmes.

2. Next, you must have developed a certain degree of good cognitive, conceptual, analytic, synthesis, critical thinking, retentive and extrapolative mental capabilities in order to make sure you get the context right. When faced with arcane and apparent contradictions in verses, compare scriptures with scriptures and pinpoint all those related verses wherever they are, as the bible does not contradict itself. You will need an elephant’s memory for this.

3. Develop a fluent vocabulary in the language of the bible version you are reading. Be forewarned that there are many archaic words like rebuke, abideth, gainsay, glistering, - these are just a few of those. And so, be prepared to do some painstaking exegesis every now and then. Of course you may want to read the bible version translated in the local dialect you grew up with. I once tried to read the Tagalog version, and promptly gave up after a few tries. I felt like I was reading Greek.

4. Learn some of the historical culture of the biblical times. This would give you a more accurate insight into the comings and goings at the time. Remember, you were born in the 20 th century, in an era far removed from the time when the apostles walked the earth. The subtle nuances of the culture in that period of lambs, scrolls, famines, slavery and kingdoms might be completely lost on a person used to the environment of Corporate takeovers, the internet, wireless technology, Paris Hilton and McDonalds.

If you seriously consider at least all of the above, chances are you will get the truth right. In statistical terms, that would translate into a probability of 0.568 % . Yes, less than 1 percent probability of getting it right, after going through all that trouble. If our math teacher demands the equation for such an unremarkable figure, tell her that it is already an optimistic estimate. In the Philippines alone, excluding other countries, there are already 176 or so denominations who remain convinced that the bible is so easy to understand. Each one of them claims their own correct interpretation of the bible. Since all of them cannot be true at the same time, let’s just assume that at least one is.

"Understandeth thou what thou readest?" (Acts 8:30)


Leon Suprenant said...

Willy, bravo!

Excellent post.

WillyJ said...

Thanks Leon. It was great reading "Separating the Fruit from the Nuts".