The Right Use of the Bible

In his Sermon ‘On The Clarity and Certainty of the Word of God’ Zwingli writes

zurich_1531First you need to dispense with the notion that what you read into Scripture is what’s there. Such a view is quite pointless as I will clearly show. I know that you will insist that you have worked through Scripture and uncovered texts which support your point of view. And here we hit at the disease of the human heart and at the center of all human systems. Which is this: we want to find support for our own views in Scripture and so if we find a text that, however falsely, we can relate to it, we do and in doing so we twist Scripture in order to force it to say what we want it to say … No matter who a man may be, if he teaches and preaches according to his own ideas and opinions his teaching is false. But if he teaches you in accordance with the Word of God, it isn’t he, but God, who teaches you.

Later in the sermon, after describing the importance of being well schooled in Scripture, he writes

Because if we are not well versed in Scripture how will we know if the priest who teaches us is explaining the truth purely and unmixed with his own evil desires?

First, then, we have to pray that God will destroy the old man who views his own wisdom and ability as so important.

Second, when the old man is dead and carried off, that God will fill us in such measure that we believe and trust him alone.

Third, that when that is done we will surely be exceedingly refreshed and comforted. And we must also repeat the words of the Prophet that the Lord strengthen that which he has begun in us; so ‘let the one who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall’.

Fourth, the Word of God does not ignore anyone, and least of all the greatest. Because when God called Paul he said to Ananias, ‘He is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the princes and kings of the earth’. And again, he says to the disciples, ‘You will be brought before governors and kings so that you may testify to them about me.’

Fifth, it is of the very nature of the Word that it humbles the high and mighty and exalts the lowly. That was the song of the Virgin Mary, ‘He has pulled down the mighty from their thrones and exalted them of low degree’. And ‘By him shall all the hills be brought low and the valleys filled’.

Sixth, the Word of God always draws and assists the poor, comforts the comfortless and despairing, and opposes those who trust in themselves, as Christ also says.

Seventh, it does not seek its own advantage and for that reason Christ ordered his disciples not to take along with them scrip or purse.

Eighth, it only desires that God be made known to people, that the stubborn may revere him and the lowly find comfort in God. Those who preach that are undoubtedly right. But those who cautiously beat around the bush for their own advantage, defending the human teaching of men rather than explaining the doctrine of God are false prophets. Know them by what they say! They make much of ‘the holy Fathers’ and ‘what men can do’ and the like. But for all their complaining they do not complain about the Gospel of Christ being lazily proclaimed.

Ninth, when you discover that the Word of God renews you, and becomes more valuable to you than when you heard only the doctrines of men, then you can be sure that God is at work in you.

Tenth, when you learn that it gives you assurance of the grace of God and eternal salvation, it is of God.

Eleventh, when you discover that it crushes and destroys you but glorifies God himself within you, it is surely God at work.

Twelfth, when you discover that reverence for God gives you joy instead of sorrow it is certain that the Word and the Spirit of God are working in you.

And that, as they say, is that.

The Misuse of the Bible

The uses to which the Bible has been put; the ways in which it has been tortured; the cruel violence it has suffered at the hands of persons who never should have been allowed within 10 miles of it; all lead me to believe that things may well have gone better with Christianity had it kept its sacred text accessible only to those with the training and skills to ‘rightly divide’ it.

The truth, ugly as it may be, is that most folk are simply unequipped to read it.  Perhaps our ‘democratic’ approach of allowing any slack jawed mouth breather who wanted to and wants to to pillage it for any meaning they wish has done more to harm the truth and its promulgation than anything else.

Historically speaking, and we all know this to be true, sacred scripture was written by the literate for the literate- and that would have been a scant fragment of the population, all professionals.  The general populace was perhaps never meant to have it.  They had, as it was, interpreters in their midst who read it to them and, more importantly, interpreted it for them (one need simply see Nehemiah 8 for the evidence).

At any rate, we biblical scholars may have only ourselves to blame for all the false exegesis and dreadful eisegesis that’s floating around out there because we’ve opened the book and invited anyone, anywhere, anyhow, to gaze at it and speak for it.

Zwingli insisted that two things were necessary for proper exegesis: learning and the Spirit.  Most folk who open the Bible today lack one or the other.

If I’m wrong, refute me.

Total Depravity: The Promiscuous Child Molesting Teacher Edition

Another week, another teacher taking advantage of a kid who doesn’t have the sense or maturity to know he’s been used.

perversionA New Jersey teacher [Jennalin Garcia-Calle] was arrested on Thursday for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a student. The algebra teacher, 28, reportedly began the relationship with her 16-year-old student in December. The two had multiple sexual encounters, all of which took place inside the school. The relationship was discovered after the student told a family member about it, although fellow students claim he also bragged about it at school. The teacher has been charged with second-degree sexual assault and fourth-degree child abuse.

Why Academic Papers Behind Paywalls Hurt us All, and Why Paywalls are Immoral

Published a few days back

The suicide of Aaron Swartz, the activist committed to making scholarly research accessible to everyone, has renewed debate about the ethics of academic publishing. Under the current system, academic research is housed inscholarly databases, which charge as much as $50 per article to those without a university affiliation.

The only people who profit from this system are academic publishers. Scholars receive no money from the sale of their articles, and are marginalized by a public who cannot afford to read their work. Ordinary people are denied access to information and prohibited from engaging in scholarly debate.

Academic paywalls are often presented as a moral or financial issue. How can one justify profiting off unpaid labour while denying the public access to research frequently funded through taxpayer dollars? But paywalls also have broader political consequences. Whether or not an article is accessible affects more than just the author or reader. It affects anyone who could potentially benefit from scholarly insight, information or expertise – that is, everyone.

The impact of the paywall is most significant in places where censorship and propaganda reign. When information is power, the paywall privileges the powerful. Dictatorships are the paywall’s unwitting beneficiary.

Read the rest, and ask yourself- who really gains when your work and mine and all the rest is sequestered for the use of the moneyed.  Go ahead, ask yourself why those who produce the research receive very little to nothing for their labors whilst people and organizations which do nothing – NOTHING – but store it make huge profits from it.  And yes, JSTOR, I’m glaring at you, you extortionists.  How dare you profit from the intellectual property of others?  How on earth did you convince Universities to buy into your scam?  What kind of kickback did you pay?  With thanks to Thomas Bolin for pointing out the essay.

And Again… A Teen Killed… Guns….

Heartbreaking

20713184_BG1A Sweetwater teen died Thursday evening after accidentally shooting himself with a family handgun, according to Sweetwater Police Department officials.  Police said they responded to a possible shooting call around 5:45 p.m. Thursday on Morris Street.  Officials found 15-year-old Matthew Daniels with a gunshot wound. His mother was performing CPR but officers immediately took over. Police secured the weapon and contacted the District Attorney’s office. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation then took over the investigation. Officials said there were no signs of foul play. Daniels attended Sweetwater High School.

Anyone besides me sick of these things happening?  When guns are everywhere, no one is safe.  Especially those who have them everywhere.

Some important thoughts here.

Alastair's Adversaria

The issue of ‘orthodox alexithymia’ has resurfaced in a number of contexts online over the last few days. Richard Beck describes what he means by this term:

What I’m describing here might be captured by the tag “orthodox alexithymia.” By “orthodox” I mean the intellectual pursuit of right belief. And by “alexithymia” I mean someone who is, theologically speaking, emotionally and socially deaf and dumb. Even theologically sociopathic.

(Alexithymia—etymologically “without words for emotions”—is a symptom characteristic of individuals who have difficulty understanding their own and others’ emotions. You can think of alexithymia as being the opposite of what is called emotional intelligence.)

I think that Beck is naming something real here. There are ‘sociopathic’ forms of religion, forms of religion that are completely disconnected from any sense of feeling, forms of religion that only engage the head, but never the heart. There is a sort of logical theology that…

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