Are Two Commandments Really Better Than One?: Examining the nature of the “two greatest commandments”

A while back, a commenter here, Bridget, asked me for an opinion on something said by a commenter over at Paul Dohse’s blog, paulspassingthoughts.com.  This person had taken to task the Apostle Paul for the (apparent) fusing of the two greatest commandments, as proclaimed by Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew:

“Jesus said to him [a Pharisee, who was asking], ‘ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it:  ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ ‘”

In ostensible contrast to the…er, Doctrine of the Two-Not-Just-One Commandments, I suppose we’ll call it (hey, everything else is a doctrine, why not this?), Paul, in Galatians, is quoted as saying:

“For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even this:  ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.'”

Bridget asked this:

Yes, Argo, wondering about your thoughts on the distinction between the two commandments as well as the commenters opinion that Paul actually changed what Jesus had said. I had never seen that distinction before.

The questions which are the crux of the issue with respect to the comment from the person over at paulspassingthoughts.com  is:  Are there two commandments, or just one?  Is Paul a deceiver?  I liar?  A false prophet because he said that all the law is summed up by only ONE commandment, and Jesus clearly implies that all the law is not best summarized by merely one commandment, but TWO?  And is that really what Jesus is saying, or is He saying something entirely different?

The conclusion upon which this person arrived was that clearly Paul deceived his flock by presumptuously asserting that there was only one great commandment instead of two, as Jesus clearly taught.  Summary?  Paul should be ignored because he is little more than a rank liar.

Okay…couple of problems.

First, I have a problem with the “by golly by gosh oh gee there must, must , must be TWO separate, distinct, mutually exclusive, never-the-two-shall-meet-because-that-would-be-like-crossing-proton-streams, commandments” because, well…really?  Is this where our insane interpretation leading to irrational hatred of Paul has taken us?  Down very narrow roads where whole philosophical concepts and epistemological categories are now organized according to the fucking Dewy decimal system?  Where if the ideas aren’t numbered and dotted and labeled precisely, codified and reconciled to some exacting equation which demands a specific product according to a rigorous abstract mathematical construct then we froth at the mouth and cry heretic and take a scythe to the Pauline epistles and organize a mob to burn the books and drown his proselytes?

Come oooooooon, people.  Why is this even an issue?  Whatever happened to assuming that something must actually make some kind of sense in order to be morally compelling and intellectually honest?

Is this what we think theology is?  Is this why there are entire institutions devoted to parsing the difference between “scroll”, and “loaves” in Greek, Aramaic, and Hebrew?  Is this why there are a thousand different denominations all hating one another and demanding their excommunication from heaven and earth, all the while conceding the exact same philosophical premises which say that reason is the devil’s plaything and that the human mind is the cauldron for the witches brew of apostatized assholery?

Has it really gotten to the point where we are going to pit Paul against Christ because Paul makes one point and Jesus makes the exact same point but uses a different number of abstract ideas to make it; and therefore, it cannot possibly be the same point at all, because the numbers, being numbers, demand that one is infinitely separated by a chasm of absolute value from two; and the numbers, as we all know, get to make the rules about what is and what is not as far as human beings are concerned?

Why, yes.  Yes it has.  This is exactly what it has come to.

Instead of giving Paul the benefit of the doubt and thinking that maybe the peddlers of a false gospel, the Reformers, and their evil spawn, the Calvinists, who manage to fuck up the message and intent of every other single relevant figure in the Bible might actually have fucked up Paul’s as well?  And the one’s they can’t completely fuck up they pretty much ignore all together…like Jesus.

But we live in an age of cynicism, and truly, I am not one to talk…this, I admit.  Still, I think it is worth pointing out that the overestimation of our western Platonist philosophy has made us arrogant, and poor judges of our ability to truly understand perspectives that differ from our own.  Instead of assuming that our initial opinions might possibly be incorrect which might possibly lead us to spend some very helpful time employing our minds in the act of thinking about whether or not we have drawn the right conclusions, we simply assume that we are right, and either accept or deny ideas based upon whether they have found favor with our understanding (which must of course be full on immaculate) and not necessarily upon TRUTH, as rooted in reason.

This is exactly the kind of thinking that poor Paul, especially in this example, has fallen victim to.  “The numbers don’t lie”, goes the old adage, and yet the salesmen of numbers lie all the time, which is the only salient point.  In fact, since numbers are not actual and thus are not causal, they work for MAN, and not the other way around.  And the fact that they work for man, and yet are generally accepted to categorically “speak truth” (i.e. not lie), has allowed many to be deceived by them; and allowed many despotic governments to rise to power and many false philosophies to rule the crimson day.

Because in the end, numbers and what they say don’t matter.  It is what people believe that truly matters.  And that is a fact I’ll argue for with anyone, anywhere.  Show me a number that needs no human agent to be efficacious and I’ll show you that I’m actually an eight foot tall black man who plays center or the Lakers, has his daddy’s last name, “Jordan”, and is worth millions of dollars and gold bullion (my fantasy life, by the way).  If the government says seven million have signed up for healthcare, then it’s seven million.  A credible source is not required because the numbers, considered to be actual and causal themselves, ARE the source.  And if the earth is going to heat up by a million degrees in ten years, killing us all unless we categorically surrender our right to a free market society, then the earth is going to heat up.  Period.  And if it turns out that it doesn’t happen, it is our senses which are flawed.  It is our  innate human ignorance rooted in our contradictory metaphysics…our “depravity”; our “tendency” to be lazy, stupid, worthless, evil, racist, hateful, careless, arrogant and God-hating which has misled us.  Not the numbers.

The numbers don’t lie.

The numbers are never wrong, and therefore neither are their priests.  If the earth’s temperature doesn’t rise or there are not really seven actual million who sign up then the priests of the abstractions do not confess to error.  They merely re-categorize and re-define the message.  The numbers haven’t lied, and how dare you question them based on what you think you see, as if you are able to see anything at all in your inherent existential failure.  And if seventeen trillion dollars in debt seems high, trust them…the numbers don’t lie, and they are saying that it isn’t really that high at all, because what you think is high is merely what you think is high,and therefore, is of no material relevance.

The numbers don’t lie?

Hmm…perhaps.  But certain men lie all the time.  And these men fancy themselves as the inexorable proxies for the abstractions which they say control us.  This absolves them from their mistakes because it makes us unable to see any mistakes in the first place.

Numbers, like any other conceptual abstraction, can form very strong and, frankly, exasperatingly stubborn beliefs by giving humanity a false sense of intellectual and philosophical security.  And this is why it is so easy for someone, like the person on Paul Dohse’s blog, to reject the Apostle Paul and his message just because it doesn’t happen to agree with his presumed-superior apprehension of the way the universe actually works:  numerically.

But Jesus got it.  Oh yes, Jesus always agrees with the critics of Paul, but never Paul, himself.

So what was the problem again?

Oh, yeah.  Paul said one, and Jesus said two.  Ergo, Paul is a despicable heretic who should be run out of Jerusalem on a fucking rail.

Here’s the thing.  First, let’s start with the obvious.  Jesus did not say that all the law hangs on the two commandments.  He said that there was a greatest commandment, and a second commandment which is like it.  And his use of the word “like” is telling.  It implies a reciprocal relationship; one of equality, not of hierarchy.  But of course, Christianity, and protestantism specifically, is positively obsessed with with “proper roles” and “submission” and “authority”.  Everyone and everything must know their place because all of Christianity is a message of authoritarian “organization”, where life is supposed to be all neat and tidy like; and of course if we have a bunch of individuals running around thinking that they are each just as valuable and as equal and as loved by God as the next Tom, Dick, or Harriet, well obviously the inevitable orgy of sin which follows such wicked, wicked thinking will be enough to engulf the whole world in mass spiritual suicide and send us all careening at breakneck speed straight to hell.  Where YOU belong, by the way, and are almost certainly headed by hook or crook because God fucking hates you…but THEY, you see, as the elect…well, they want to go to heaven, mind you.  And that will only happen if they bust asses and crack skulls and burn some bitches in the name of authority and submission, roles and places, leaders and followers, the called and those who exist to serve them.  So they want things tidy, and they don’t need your assertions of moral and existential equality fucking it all up and disheveling their neat and organized little polity.

So, to them, when Jesus says “greatest” commandment, it must mean that the first commandment has supreme authority over the second command which is merely “like” it.  This means that the greatest commandment subjugates the one that is like it.  Because in our western thinking “second” obviously means inferior.  And inferior implies an authority structure.  Because Jesus used two and not one, He couldn’t possibly have meant that there is a single idea:  love.  And that it is LOVE which is the root of the entire law.  Love for neighbors, which obviously includes God, because God is a person.  And a human being (gasp!) at that, in Christ.

Of course, this is in fact Paul’s point.  Love is the sum and substance of the law.  Perhaps HOW love is shown to God may differ by metaphysical necessity (God being God,the Creator, who is distinct from man), but the idea of loving God and loving people is utterly identical.  You love them both in the same way:  you affirm their right to exist as individuals, not judging them according to false ideas of conceptually abstract ideas and constructs, not stealing from them or lying to them or burning them alive if they disagree with you, and lauding their merits and accomplishments and successes and power when appropriate, revering them and their positions when they’ve earned it righteously, and being “patient, kind, slow to anger”…etc., etc.

And Paul is absolutely right.  Love is the singular idea.  But not love in a vacuum.  A love which has its meaning rooted in the standard of TRUTH:  the life of the individual.  Which includes God.  So, yes, loving your neighbor as yourself includes God.  God is an individual just as is anyone else.  When you love your neighbors, God is ipso facto included.

Paul said it perfectly.  All the law hangs on this:  “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

But see, the Reformed and the Calvinists just absolutely fucking hate that.   How dare we lump God in with the fleshly creatures who inhabit weak and sickly bodies of sin and disease.  Just who in the hell do you think you are?  God isn’t your neighbor! they shriek.  You blasphemous whore!  You are the fleshly incarnation of everything God despises, and and so is your neighbor!

So, in their minds, there is NO moral or existential equivalency between God and man, which is why their must be an implicit authority structure (a “more worthy” and a “less worthy” commandment) in Jesus’s declaration that there is a greatest and second greatest commandment.  Of course, Jesus’s entire ministry, message, and the fact that He was a fleshly human being who was God utterly undercuts their false theology, which is all predicated upon the categorically evil, God-despising and God-mocking doctrine of Total Depravity.

They categorically reject man as having any good at all, implicit or explicit.  Inherent or acquired.  Their entire theology and philosophy can be rooted in a single thought:  Man’s very existence is the crux of his sin problem.

Because you ARE is why you do evil.  Period.  Thus, the solution to your evil-saturated metaphysic is to be removed from yourself.  And this is the core of every Reformed and neo-Calvinist doctrine:  YOU never get to be you.  The only way to be saved is for you to confess that YOU are not you; were never really you; and that any YOU there was or will be is totally vile, totally ignorant, and totally corrupt.  God has and wants nothing to do with YOU.

That is their message, and once you understand the message it is as easy to spot in their sermons and statements of faith and catechisms and creeds as Freddy Krueger at a birthday party.

So you see, they cannot possibly concede that Paul’s take on the “two greatest commandments”, if you want to call his Galatians commentary that, was, in fact, true. They cannot possibly concede that Jesus was NOT, in fact, intending to imply the lack of any moral equivalency between the two commandments, and was making the statement from a position where moral and existential equivalency are assumed, with this equivalency being rooted in a singular metaphysical TRUTH: that both man and God ARE, and thus are equal in truth and morality, and thus are both deserving of the exact same thing: love, though perhaps in different manners of expression, one of worship and the other of idealization and unfettered affirmation, because to be alive as YOU is infinitely GOOD.

No, their entire theology ultimately understands nothing but FORCE (as John Immel always aptly explains) as a means to compel moral behavior, right thinking and actions, and to gain “followers of Christ”…for their own good, of course.  And that is precisely why their interpretation of the functional distinction between Jesus’s “two greatest commandments” commentary is as follows:

Yes, we shall love our neighbors, but when push comes to shove, we reserve the categorical right and divine mandate to torture and murder those neighbors should they question our “calling”, our interpretive assumptions, or our authority as God’s proxy here on earth.  Loving neighbors is a different kind of love.  It is a love that is utterly conditional on you doing whatever the fuck you we tell you to do, because we are God to you.  The second commandment is inexorably subjugated to the first, and so also is humanity subjugated to the “will of God” as has been divinely and specially revealed to us, and not to you or the rest of the slobbering, brainless, dickless masses at whom God is constantly offended and embarrassed.

And that’s why they assume that not only are there practical and functional distinctions between the two commandments, but philosophical/interpretive ones as well.  Loving your neighbor is NOT the same thing as loving God because your neighbor is of infinitely lesser worth than God.  Your neighbor, saved or not, is a finite, yet infinitely and perpetually depraved mongoloid whom God barely tolerates at best.  While God, on the other hand, is He who has granted to those He has called to rule and lead and “shepherd” a complete ownership of the masses, and is infinitely beyond the scope and worth and goodness and purpose and understanding of any (other) human, who is filth by comparison.

And this kind of thinking will always see false distinctions in absolutes…like love.

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37 thoughts on “Are Two Commandments Really Better Than One?: Examining the nature of the “two greatest commandments”

  1. “Here’s the thing. First, let’s start with the obvious. Jesus did not say that all the law hangs on the two commandments. He said that there was a greatest commandment, and a second commandment which is like it. And his use of the word “like” is telling. It implies a reciprocal relationship; one of equality, not of hierarchy. But of course, Christianity, and protestantism specifically, is positively obsessed with with “proper roles” and “submission” and “authority”. ”

    Yeah…good points.

    I was thinking when I read that at Pauls blog the guy was not considering Paul’s audience who, for the most part, must have believed Jesus was God in the flesh. They would understand “love God” but perhaps not so much what it meant to love one another. I am thinking of Galatians in context esp 3+ which is about inheritance/sonship. A much broader concept than salvation only.

  2. You could be right. I am planning on reading through Galatians again tonight to review the entire context of that specific declaration of Paul’s.

    I find the whole notion of authority hierarchy positively ludicrous with respect to Jesus’s discussion of the two commandments, which of course is the FIRST assumption submission-obsessed Calvinists pounce on; that was what I wanted to focus on in the article. The knee jerk reaction of “see! See! God is more important that people! An obvious reference to total depravity!”

  3. Let me just say it never once occurred to me in all the times I have read Galatians that Paul was purposely leaving out a commandment. And I agree about it being ludicrous to see hierarchy authority in the commandment. But they find it everywhere. It is their filter.

  4. I like Bridget’s question. I had never seen the distinction/criticism before either.

    “Jesus said to him [a Pharisee, who was asking], ‘ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it:  ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself'”

    Not Tom’s, not Dick’s, but this Harriet’s 2 cents…

    I see it all as inseparable, intertwined, united. One can’t be done to the exclusion of the other. When one is done, the other is as well. Decision-making is clearer when held up to this light.

    Right understanding & teaching of it is what’s missing. Love another in the same manner of love I have for myself. In order to do this, I MUST have value. I also value others. It begins with valuing myself. Thank you, thx, thx John Immel.

    I also need a clear understanding of what love says & does. Love is not a yes man or a flatterer either! To desire love is to desire truth as well.

    You can’t believe in the ability to do good AKA love yourself & others (& God, IMO) and hold firm to an inability AKA total depravity belief system at the same time.

  5. I guess I don’t understand. If there is no such thing as inerrancy, why can’t Paul be wrong? What is wrong with Paul being wrong? And if Paul is wrong, why isn’t it correct for independent thinking people to identify the error?

  6. Or maybe Paul was making a nondualist statement. We who are many are one. I don’t see any harm in that. The sum of the OT amd NT is essentially the same. Get it? No, we replace law with more law. Pharisee style. The Pharisees were obsessed with government power not dividing the word.

  7. “I also need a clear understanding of what love says & does. Love is not a yes man or a flatterer either! To desire love is to desire truth as well.”

    Yes! This deserves a whole discussion on its own. It is a big thing for me to define love as a believer. I would include both justice and mercy in the definition. Circumstances alter of course. :o)

  8. “I guess I don’t understand. If there is no such thing as inerrancy, why can’t Paul be wrong? What is wrong with Paul being wrong? And if Paul is wrong, why isn’t it correct for independent thinking people to identify the error?”

    I guess I am wondering if it is a bonafide error. Would Paul assume his audience would the whole letter (unlike how so many proof text) and ascertain it was about “behavior” and the love one another plays into that?

  9. “To desire love is to desire truth as well.”

    Well said.

    If you don’t have truth, then you cannot really define what it means to love or be loved. You nailed it, A Mom.

    This is why I spend so much time not only on examining theological premises, but scientific ones as well. If what we are amounts to irreconcilable assumptions, then what we believe and what we do and why we believe them and do them are ultimately a lie. If we are nothing more than a bunch of unconscious particles separated by chasms of space, then I fail to see how a ‘being” like this can arrive at a place where any idea, not the least of which is love, can be shown efficacious and therefore relevant.

    Without truth, there is no such thing as love. This begs the question, what is the foundation of truth?

    I say it is the individual SELF. So, the natural evolution of inquiry is “What is SELF; and how does a physical product end up also as a conscious one in order that it can ACTUALLY know its ACTUAL SELF so as to create concepts which can ACTUALLY serve it…like “love”?”

  10. Lydia,

    I read Galatians last night and I agree with you. In light of the context, Paul’s statement seems very consistent. I, like you, never batted an eye at Galatians 5:14. I thought the commenters interpretation of Paul, and the accusation, in essence, of heresy, was very interesting. Though ultimately a bunch of bullshit.

    Also, I never said Paul could not be wrong. All I am arguing is that he is not the gnostic heretic that so many ex or anti-Calvinists believe him to be; and that when I examine some of the statements and ideas which people offer as exhibitions for his heresy, like the whole “Paul contradicts Jesus by appealing to only one of the commandments and not the other”, which was the crux of this article, I don’t see anything inconsistent or contradictory at all.

    Paul is confusing…he is not the best wordsmith in the Bible. And there are ideas of his that I do not agree with; but evil is a product of root philosophy, and I do not think Paul’s philosophy is wrong or in any way fundamentally flawed. I think he does not always see how his assumptions are occasionally at odds with some of his behavior and his demands, but if we stick to his philosophical arguments I find that he has one of the best grasps on the whole point of Christ: to remove individuals from their bondage to abstractions like “law”. To make moral worth and TRUTH a function of BEING HUMAN, not obeying something outside of man.

  11. ji,

    I was just talking about this. I’m glad the commenter on ppt gave their perspective & that Bridget asked Argo about it. I find this discussion of Paul valuable. Paul needs to be discussed without the “OMG!” or “You’re not saved” label. Thinkers are looking for perspectives & they are dying of thirst in the churches & blogs of: “sit & nod, but don’t ask a question”, and “collective agreement trumps truth”. When that happens, the Driscolls of the world acquire fleets of buses.

    And guys like him get a lot of bus mileage out of Paul, rightfully or wrongfully so. Let’s keep discussing. i want new perspectives.

  12. “Yes! This deserves a whole discussion on its own. It is a big thing for me to define love as a believer. I would include both justice and mercy in the definition. Circumstances alter of course. :o)”

    Yes back at ya. :o) This should be the central teaching in church (along with the value of self) – understanding & defining true love as a believer. Love points to & affirms the value of self. Love is the way to treat ourselves, others, God. Some read this & think of a wishy-washy sappy-soppy love. Love is not selfless nor is it selfish (selfish=isolating self-hate IMO). Not at all. But that’s how badly it’s misunderstood. It is so badly misunderstood.

    Glad you all are talking about it. I hope this convo continues.

  13. “i want new perspectives.”

    Hee Hee. That is what NT Wright has been doing for many years. Looking at a “new” perspective on Paul that is really not knew…..just lost for centuries. I am interested to read his newest book but will wait till the price drops a bit or the Library carries it.

  14. “This should be the central teaching in church (along with the value of self) – understanding & defining true love as a believer. Love points to & affirms the value of self. Love is the way to treat ourselves, others, God. Some read this & think of a wishy-washy sappy-soppy love. Love is not selfless nor is it selfish (selfish=isolating self-hate IMO). ”

    This is an issue that is huge to me. I can give you a long list of how love has been defined in many churches that make it into a sick relationship that is unfruitful. From the fake smiley face deceptive Christians to the “love means obeying your leader”

    One thing I keep in mind is that Jesus is the epitome of love as He lived. He dissed the religious leaders of his own tribe yet loved them. He expected “real” from people. Not fake. Not deception and playing the outward image games.

    Oh and my favorite is “sacrficial” love which is good for everyone else but the leaders/gurus.

    To me love encompasses truth, justice, mercy, genuiness, honesty, etc.

    We have lots of work to do on defining that term as believers.

    Ooh, I am going to do this as an activity with some middle school aged girls. How much you bet not one of them mentions justice when defining love? Too many of them have been taught that loves means NOT seeking justice and they don’t even know it.

    This ought to be interesting.

  15. Lydia,

    Please let us know how it goes.

    Oh, by the way I got my hands on this emotional counseling pamphlet put out by a Methodist church around here.

    You all have got to read it. I am going to write it into a post. The gist is: your psychological problems are all your fucking fault, and you can’t do anything about them. You have to confess your sin and weakness and then cross your fingers that God will deign to relieve you of your suffering. Not that you deserve it.

    It is probably the most counter productive approach to mental health ever devised.

    Some days you wonder if the Lord knows the extent of the evil being perpetrated upon the children of men in His name.

  16. Fate & destiny have replaced Jesus & the equation of self=zero is everywhere (my translation of Tullian’s Jesus+nothing=everything). :o)

    Fate buzz words: Inability. God is big enough. God can handle it. God will take care of it. It needed to happen so I could learn/grow. God can take it & use it.

    So what I do doesn’t matter??? What anyone else does doesn’t matter???

    BTW, Argo, YOU have amazing talent & ability. Far more than I have encountered being side-peddled on any of these blogs, hands down. I had no idea, never heard you mention it. I happened to see your youtube channel. WOW.

    Try out for the voice. You will hit it out of the park. Are you a songwriter? It would be a loss if you weren’t. Music is a wonderful medium of expression. Much of “Christian” music has been hijacked by fatalistic, hopeless, “you were meant to suffer” messages. It’s sorely lacking your trifecta of talent, ability & brain. Post more videos & Godspeed.

  17. A Mom,

    Lol…so you found me out. Ha…that’s funny. I would never have expected that to happen.

    Yeah, I posted those a while back. I sort of forgot they were there; I guess when a certain amount of time goes by and you stop getting any more hits (and the ones you did get you can count on two hands) or any feedback, it fades into oblivion.

    It’s been a hobby of mine for a while. I could try to post more…there’s a lot more where that came from. They are all original by the way. 🙂

  18. I used to think the Methodists were the last hold outs to determinism in my neck of the woods but have found I am very wrong. They are either flaming liberals who support the government confiscating more of your money for the “greater good” because as you all know, government is an expert on deciding how you should live. Or, many Methodist churches here have gone Calminian of sorts. We all knew there were not enough jobs for all the Neo Cals graduating from SBTS so the Methodists have been infiltrated here.

    And what is worse, the more uncertain the economic times, the more folks turn to government AND determinism for answers or the less they pay close attention to what is going on around them in the wider world because we are BUSY hanging on.

  19. “Some days you wonder if the Lord knows the extent of the evil being perpetrated upon the children of men in His name.”

    I often wonder why He is so patient. But then, we are supposed to know better.

  20. Anyway, Paul was not Jesus – He was using His teachings in a different language and to different people, but the SAME message.The people as sheep and goats in Matthew 25 comes to mind. Paul summarises the whole intent of the story very well, imho.

  21. Lydia,

    LOL…yeah. It doesn’t have anything to do with this blog or what we discuss here. It’s just…my other hobby.

    Just type in Zach Vandermeer in the search bar on youtube. That’s me.

  22. Actually, if you put in Zach van der Meer, you get more of my stuff. For some reason, the spelling of the last name makes a difference.

  23. “Anyway, Paul was not Jesus ”

    Amazing how many evangelicals cannot grasp that.

  24. Lydia,

    Yes…all the songs are original, both words and music. Thanks to you and AMom for the compliments. I am glad you enjoyed it. 🙂

  25. Hi all. Like the conversation. Thanks for responding, Argo. Sorry it took me so long to get back to the topic.

    I agree with John Immel. Why does Paul have to be right? But then . . . he doesn’t have to be wrong either 🙂 There ARE more than two options available. I do think that we have a big problem when we go down the road of claiming the bible to be inerrant, infallible, and basically word for word what God wants us to know. It seems like every one who believes this concept of the bible then has to cross every t and dot every i AND come up with systematic theologies to make EVERY word and sentence compatible with EVERY other word and sentence. I don’t believe for a second that this is how the bible should be used, what was intended.

    There is no common sense in expecting that what Paul is saying in one place to a group of people to have to be word for word what Jesus said to others somewhere else. There was no bible for Paul to look at to get it “perfect” to begin with, Besides, these are different people and different circumstances that Paul is speaking in to. Does it have to be word for word what Jesus said? Paul never heard Jesus speak, well, accept when Paul was knocked on his butt.

    The person commenting at PPT seemed more like a Calvinist with his anit-Paul stance then Calvinists are about their Paul is supreme in his theology and who really cares what Jesus says stance. Yes, I know, they don’t SAY this, but their actions speak volumes 🙂

  26. ” I do think that we have a big problem when we go down the road of claiming the bible to be inerrant, infallible, and basically word for word what God wants us to know. It seems like every one who believes this concept of the bible then has to cross every t and dot every i AND come up with systematic theologies to make EVERY word and sentence compatible with EVERY other word and sentence. I don’t believe for a second that this is how the bible should be used, what was intended.”

    Bridget,

    I could not agree more with this statement.

    The problem with Biblical inerrancy is at the core this: if the bible is inerrant in and of itself then by definition it does not need man’s life in order to be ALREADY perfect. This makes man entirely superfluous when it comes to TRUTH. Which makes man’s life irrelevant…again, by definition. And if man’s life is irrelevant, well…you can see where the logical conclusion of that belief ends up. Hell, you can see it happening. Just wait until I do the post on this brochure about counseling people from this Methodist church near where I live. It is positively anti-Christian. I must admit, I am starting to see these churches as more and more removed from God…which makes them, hmm…I don’t know. But the more I listen to the sermons the more I feel that the operate from a place that is very far from God. I know this stuff is evil in my intellect. But now, I must admit, I am starting to feel it when I’m around it. The hatred for man and the mockery this teaching makes of God makes me so uncomfortable that it is almost bordering on fear. The level of disgust these people have for human life, even that of their own children, is terrifying. I am starting to, well…again, FEEL just how satanic the teaching is.

    Paul Dohse re-posted a great article he did juxtaposing scripture verses about obedience and doing good next to a neo-Cal preaching that the Gospel is merely understanding just how evil humanity is and how helpless and how the answer to all things is to simply recognize that you are evil and cannot help it.

    Does that sound good to anyone? What does that mean?

    Like I said, it reeks of satanic influence.

    I’m depressed.

  27. And again, I never said that Paul could not be wrong. I mean…maybe I did? But I’d like someone quote me because I cannot find it.

    I still don’t understand why John posted that comment. We got into a tussle on the previous post, but I’m not sure what exactly happened. In that thread he accused me of arguing the primacy of consciousness model, which makes about as much sense as accusing me of being a Calvinist; and in this thread he implies that I said Paul couldn’t be wrong. I feel like I offended John somewhere recently, but I must admit I cannot pinpoint anything specific.

    I’m not sure what is going on here, to be honest.

    Again, if someone can point out where I said Paul could not be wrong, that would be extremely helpful.

  28. My comment about the Apostle Paul being right or wrong wasn’t meant as a correction to anything. It was just my thinking.

    I think John was making the point that the man at PPT has the freedom to come to the conclusion that the Apostle Paul was wrong in his statement to the Galations ESPECIALLY if we don’t hold the Bible to the infallible, inerrant concept. Personally, I think the guy was a bit legalistic in his thinking even though he also seemed to be an anti-Calvinist.

  29. Yes…I understand. I wasn’t offended by your comment.

    And of course you are right; we are certainly free to deny any doctrine, biblical or otherwise. My post concerned the fact that I did not agree with that commenter’s interpretation of the verses in question.

  30. Bridget, Just for the record I do think Paul can be wrong. I was just thinking on the particular verses that comment on PPT made that I did not see it there.

    I am enjoying this resource about the bible that you might enjoy:

    http://www.oasisuk.org/theologyresources/restoringconfidence

    I agree with this guy that inerrancy and not seeing the bible for what it actually is takes away our confidence in it over time as we start seeing problems. And what is needed is more education concerning how it came about and what it is: A collection of books. Watch the video if you can I think you wil enjoy it.

  31. Thanks, Lydia. I checked that out and downloaded one of his articles. I hope to read it soon. I can see how viewing the Bible as a “library if books” can be very helpful. 🙂

  32. Thanks for that link, Lydia. You are a breath of fresh air. I agree with him as well… I’d add that “culture talk” (Paul’s words were in context of the culture of his time explanation) bores me. As we become more Christ-like, we move to the forefront of cultural change to champion freedom & liberty for all. Meaning, we don’t follow cultural shift (as if we are last to get the memo), we drive it. Set the captives free. On earth as it is in heaven actions. Christ is our example, it is Christ we follow, not a proof-text nor verses strung together.

    The Bible says Jesus is the word of God. The Bible does not say the Bible is the word of God. He (Chalke) says that in one of his youtube videos. Nicely put.

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