What “Being Biblical” means to Mormons vs Evangelicals
So several times, I’ve had disagreements with various disagreements with Evangelicals with what it means to “be biblical”.
I wrote to Tim, here:
I’m more than OK with you all interpreting the biblical verses to mean what the Nicean creed teaches. I’m OK with you using it as a tool to express your interpretation of the biblical verses.
What I’m not OK with, is anyone stating that one must understand the Bible (and the nature of God) as the creed explicitly states it.
Most scholars today recognize that the creed was not what the authors meant when they wrote their portions of the Bible. Paul certainly wasn’t Nicean. Scholars still talk about forgiving Paul for not understanding the nicean understanding of God. So why can’t we get the pastors to understand that Nicea is only 1 possible way of interpreting the biblical data? If they would recognize that there are other ways, and that the Bible doesn’t authoritatively expound Nicean dogma, then we could have good conversations.
What is wrong with saying that “Document X lays out the correct understanding of Doctrine Y as found in the Bible”?
My problem is that Document X is really one possible way of parsing Doctrine Y as found in the Bible. I have no problem if they think it is the correct way of analyzing the statements found in the Bible, but it is not the only “Biblical” way of reading Doctrine Y. If they think they are right, fine. But unless the Bible says X, we should only say the Bible teaches Y, as the Bible clearly doesn’t teach X (or better yet, the bible doesn’t clearly teach X).
If the Biblical authors didn’t care enough to write Y as clearly as the authors of X did 400 years later, why should anyone claim that it is a Christian necessity. That’s a definition of Christianity that excludes everyone before X was written.
But the key phrase is Here, I think by Brian.
You’ve stripped “Biblical” of its meaning here. Nobody uses “Biblical” to mean “something that could somehow be construed from the Bible.” The purpose of the word is to connote accurate understanding, not any number of remotely possible readings.
Then BrianJ went on a rant where he essentially defines Tim’s beliefs as biblical because Tim synthesized several things from the Bible into a belief that isn’t directly stated in the Bible. Read it here.
With Tim, he doesn’t like Mormons saying that the unbiblical trinitarian statements such as co-eternal, consubstantial, etc, are non-biblical.
With Darrel, he insists that only his way of understanding the Bible is the correct one, everything else is unbiblical, and therefore flawed.
With that as an introduction, let me state how I understand the word “biblical”, and you all tell me if I’m misunderstanding how you’re using the term. Is it just as simple as a different definition of Christianity, as Kullervo wrote about here? Or is it truly a breakdown of logic?
To me, for something to be Biblical, it must be explicitly said, it can’t be interpreted differently. Thus, “Jesus said loving God is the most important commandment” is a biblical statement, whereas “We are saved by grace alone” is not a biblical statement. While I agree with both statements, I recognize the second statement as having been interpreted by Luther (and incidentally, something similar by Nephi). It is true that Ephesians 2:5 says “(by grace ye are saved;)”, but it does not say by grace alone. That interpretation was added in by Luther when he wrote the word “alone” in the column during his translation. So I would say, “We are saved by grace” is biblical, while “we are saved by grace alone” is not, because I can’t do a word search and find the phrase or any of it’s cognates. Sure we have sermons from Paul that contrast the law of Moses, and its lack of saving efficacy, with the greatness of Christ’s grace, but the level to which we interpret any sermon is great, and unless a statement is clear and unequivocal, I won’t concede it is biblical.
So is it different for Evangelicals? Do they interpret biblical as being “Whatever I can force the text to say based on my personal interpretations” or do they limit it to what the “text actually says?” Do they include Luther’s, Calvin’s, their pastors interpretations, or do they rely solely on the text? If they rely on someone else’s interpretations can they fairly judge LDS for using Latter-day Prophetic homoletic teachings for our interpretations? Is it possible to come to a reading without anyone elses interpretations? Do they use 50% of the words of Jesus and 50% of his apostles on interpreting? How do they choose which passages to include to come up with the “right” biblical interpretation? Should we call everyone’s extra-biblical synthesis a biblical interpretation just because they use biblical data? Or should we with-hold the term “biblical” for things the text actually says, and term “interpretation” anything we assert about collections of texts?
What think ye?