Thursday, May 29, 2008

Infallibility of the Saints?

I have considered that the letters of council from the Apostles to the churches might not always be the advised council for me specifically - that we apply very specific instruction for one individual or church in a very general way to ourselves when maybe we shouldn't. Each of the churches had their own challenges and strengths, as they should. We can easily find those similarities today, and through the rest of the ages I am sure, but the specific will of God in each our lives and churches can be very unique. Jesus warns against comparing one's deeds or lack of to another man, and yet we find ourselves comparing against the NT church and the saints regularly.

Do you think every teaching of the saints in the New Testament is required doctrine as a Christian?

There is no reason to listen if I cannot hear.
Just Another Voice,


Kc said...

Missy I think that context is critical when interperting their doctrine but I do consider the doctrines of Christ and the Apostles as foundational.

dorsey said...

I can't remember off the top of my head, and I'm too exhausted to look it up this minute, but Paul made some comments that he distinguished as being his own opinion, and not from the Spirit.

Then there are other scriptures, such as the admonition for women to be quiet in the temple meetings, that demand a contextual interpretation. Many people today still use those verses to keep women 'in their place,' but fail to recognize that women keeping quiet in the meetings does not make sense in our culture.

In that day, only boys were given religious education. By the time they were grown, they had pretty much memorized the scripture. Girls were taught housekeeping and the like, and, while they were taught to fear God, they were not given more than a basic religious training. So, when they went to temple, there would be many things they wouldn't understand, but Paul wanted them to wait and ask at home, rather than bog down a good debate between the learned men. Obviously, today, women know as much (sometimes more) about scripture as anyone else, so Paul's admonition would make little sense today.

As Kc said, context is critical.

Kc said...

Dorse we might have an interpretive difference here. It seems easy for me to understand the effect of culture on these instructions but I have more difficulty assigning culture as the context for them whether they are gender neutral or not.

Given this example and your explanation I would have to conclude that Paul intended that only those with religious training should speak to the assembly and that this was the only difference between men and women at this time with respect to communication to the assembly.

Another Voice said...

KC, I too consider the doctrines of Christ and the Apostles as foundational. Maybe my point is that we apply the situation the doctrine is exampled by rather than the heart of the doctrine.

Take the one Dorsey brought up. Without a doubt, I agree context is critical to a deeper understanding. But even in context, we walk away with a different interpretation. If we are looking at the specific subject as key, we can walk away with your "conclusion" or worse - or, we can look for the heart of a doctrine, or several doctrines, exposed - patience, holding your tongue, respect for others, maybe an implied respect for the culture and your place within it.

Instead, many people have based much of their lives teaching your "conclusion" that only learned people speak before the assembly - or that women should keep their mouths shut in church (and beyond!) about spritual matters (and beyond!).

Because Jesus spoke in parables, I have often considered that scripture could be looked at in the same way. Find the heart of the message, and apply; the subject is not the real story. With this same scriptural example, I came to the same heart-doctrine without needing to know anything about the culture.

Another Voice said...

I'm off to a retreat this morning into the White Mountains. I might have internet access, I might not. Depends on if they allow laptops during pedicures...

Have a great weekend!

dorsey said...

"Dorse we might have an interpretive difference here."

That's not a problem for me. It usually takes some time for everyone to come around to exactly my way of thinking about everything. But they all do, so I have learned to be patient. : D

"Given this example and your explanation I would have to conclude that Paul intended that only those with religious training should speak to the assembly and that this was the only difference between men and women at this time with respect to communication to the assembly."

I don't think it was the only difference, but I think it was the most pertinent. I do tend to believe that Paul was saying that that very thing. Consider what was happening in the meetings. There was no sermon, per se. All these Jewish men, who could recall the bulk of scripture from memory, were now, led by the apostles, discussing a revolution in their theology, coming to understand all the ways in which Jesus was the fulfillment of everything they had learned. These were some deep conversations, not for amateurs.

If someone came to Christ on Saturday, that person, whether man or woman, would not be permitted to teach the adult class on Sunday. You would expect them to sit there and learn something. I'm not saying that Paul is ignoring the natural order, but that I believe this is the far larger point of his instruction here. Instead, I see too many insecure men using this passage as a tool to relegate their very learned and intelligent wives to nursery duty and organizing the potluck.

Kc said...

Missy I can appreciate your position on this and I know we agree in spirit.

Dorse, thanks for your patience. I’m sure I’ll come around. ;-)

I had understood that this instruction actually pertained to prophesy, not theology, and is directly related to women subjecting themselves, hence the reference to the law in vs. 34.

What import would you place on the subjection called for in this verse?

dorsey said...

To be honest, on it's face, I find this passage (14:33-34) a little confounding, especially in the light of Paul's apparent defense of women praying and prophesying in 11:5, as well as Joel's prophecy, reiterated in Acts 2, that "your sons and daughters will prophesy..."

Additionally, in verse 34, it says "if there is anything they desire to learn..." which suggests theology, since prophecy comes from the spirit, not the husband.

But, to submission. This approaches one of the tensions between Christ and Paul that I alluded to in another thread (and another reason that this passage seems a little out of character for Paul). He is quick here to demand submission of women because the law says so. But my thought goes immediately to Jesus' "you have heard it said...but I say..." teachings. Following the logic of His exposition of the law of grace, I hear, "...but I say, submit yourselves one to another..." It's not entirely linear, but do you see what I'm getting at?

I was reading some more of Paul this morning, and came across a couple things of interest to this discussion. First, regarding culture, in 1 Cor 11, Paul discusses the details of head-coverings during prayer, stating that women should wear veils and that men should remove their hats when they pray. Paul asserts that even nature declares the truth behind this practice. Sounds very Jewish to me, and certainly not a practice adhered to by any modern church I know.

The second thing (and this tends to lead me down a path that will surely be considered heresy by most) was Paul's direction to widows and virgins. Because he believed Christ's second coming was imminent, he encouraged them not to marry, so that they could flee the coming wrath unencumbered. Why would such an obvious misfire be included in the inerrant, infallible word of God? Was it to give some insight into Paul? I don't know, but it does make me question.

Kc said...

Brother I really appreciate you’re time in this and I have to admit I love a good Bible study! ;-) We’re covering quite a bit of ground here so I won’t try to elaborate unless or until we find a point of contention.

I find the distinction between 11:5 and 14:34 is location. I understand 11:1 thru 11:16 to address the custom of head covering as it pertains to prayer and prophesy in general whereas 14:34 pertains specifically to the assembly.

I understand the instruction in 14:35 to be in line with the necessity for an orderly service, that it not be disrupted for the purpose of teaching.

I do see what you’re getting at. Here again I find the distinction is location. Our position in life varies dependant on many things, not the least of which is gender. I can never be a wife. ;-) Our position in Christ varies only with our faithfulness and is truly gender neutral. In life we subject ourselves to others in accordance with God’s will while in Christ we subject ourselves to God and one another.

I understand the context for 11:1-16 truly is cultural and it seems clear to me that Paul clearly stated his natural reasoning for following this custom but then clearly states in vs. 16 that this custom was not binding on the Church.

I’m having a difficult time following your thoughts on Paul’s instructions concerning widows and virgins. Could you offer the text that help form your perception here?

dorsey said...

I apologize. I did not intend to omit the citation. I was referring to 1 Cor. 7, in the neighborhood of verse 26, where he refers to "this impending crisis." Here, and elsewhere, Paul is under the impression that Christ's return was imminent. I guess my struggle with this is how were those ideas breathed by the Holy Ghost? This goes to the heart of Missy's question about infallibility of the saints, I think.

Regarding the other, I hope you don't think that I have jumped on the feminist egalitarian bandwagon (well, I may have, but only to meet chicks : D ). I do believe in the natural order as described from Genesis forward. However, I feel a certain need to radically separate myself from the subjugation of women that I have seen in the church since my childhood. I believe an accurate exposition of scripture will demonstrate a man's calling to greater sacrifice for his wife than she is called upon to offer.

At the time of Christ, women were property, and often treated as such. I think the most radical implication of Jesus' commentary on divorce was not that adultery is a free ticket out of marriage, but that women were not chattel, and could not be discarded without cause.

Kc said...

I understand where you’re coming from on this and without commenting any further on this text I think vs. 25 might resolve any further contention we might have. I think it best to make a distinction between the doctrines of the Apostles, that being the instruction they received directly from God, and the opinions of the Apostles, which were indeed contrary at times.

With respect to your statement, “well, I may have, but only to meet chicks”; how’d that go? ;-)

For the rest of your statements just hand me a drum and I’ll join the band. I further move that we go ahead and add that, soundly worded of course, somewhere into the DCF (Dorsmeister Confession of Faith). ;-)

dorsey said...

"’d that go?"

I got the crap kicked out of me. Some of them feminist chicks might be hot, but man, they ain't playin'.

I think you're probably right about doctrine vs. opinion, but I reserve the right to get in a mood about it from time to time. ; )

Love you, bro. Thanks, Missy, for having us over. Viva la revolution.

Kc said...

I love you too my bother (oops!) I mean brother (hehe). ;-)

Another Voice said...

Can I have you guys do my thinking for me? I'l just ask my question, go off and play, and then come back to answers and objections - cool.

I think you both did agree with me, sorta, in the end. KC, you said:

"I think it best to make a distinction between the doctrines of the Apostles, that being the instruction they received directly from God, and the opinions of the Apostles, which were indeed contrary at times.

My opinion is that many in the Church dogmatically take every word of the Apostles to be doctrine. Wise opinion and teaching may make those that follow wise, but don't necessarily make those that do not follow spiritually condemned. I think the most fruitful discussions in the Church are those that look at this difference.

Thanks for coming over, KC and Dorsey. I really appreciate you both.

Dyspraxic Fundamentalist said...

"Do you think every teaching of the saints in the New Testament is required doctrine as a Christian?"

With the provision that particular instructions need to be considered in context, yes.

Every word of the New Testament is inspired Scripture.

If it is not, how are you possibly going to decide which parts are worthy of obedience and which are not?

For one thing, the words of our Lord Jesus are given to us by the apostles.

If you doubt the truth of the apostles books, you cannot be sure what our Lord really said.

As regards the apostle Paul, the apostle Peter places his writings on the same level as Scripture (2 Peter 3:16).

God Bless


dorsey said...

I assume that you mean "every word" of the original manuscripts, right? Otherwise, how do you account for the various shading of language in the assorted translations?

Another Voice said...


I suppose my title is misleading. I agree 100% that every word of the NT (and OT) is Inspired Word. I even think that is so when it is poorly translated.

However, my question is regarding the purpose of those words. Is it always strict obedience to the letter? Based on what I know of my Lord Jesus, my opinion is no. My opinion is that it's purpose LEADS to the obedience of the Spirit - and gives me grounds to test the truth. I believe it's purpose is the knowledge of Christ.