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Matthew C Jones | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Aug 16 2009 8:16 PM

MJ. Smith:
I ask because I suspect I take this passage more literally than you.  If you don't take it literally, what criteria do you use to determine that it is not lo be taken literally? I am genuinely interested in your answer - not spoiling for a fight.

 

The flip-side of that argument is , "Why do you take transubstantiation literally if you reject other written scriptures? What criteria do you use to determmine when it is literal or not?" See? It works both ways. Wink

It is a whole lot easier for me to believe God is intelligent & honest enough to say what he means and mean what he says than be sneaky and self-deprecating. I have no problem believing God is capable of creating, ex nihilo, a universe that appears "billions and billions" of years old (as Carl Sagan said) when it is in fact only 6 days old. Jesus replicated the loaves and fishes on the spot when he fed the crowds. There was no need to bake the loaves or roast the fishes.

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Aug 16 2009 8:26 PM

Matthew C Jones:
The flip-side of that argument is , "Why do you take transubstantiation literally if you reject other written scriptures? What criteria do you use to determmine when it is literal or not?" See? It works both ways.

I genuinely am not seeking an argument - and transubstantiation is only one of at least 3 theological descriptions (Orthodox and Lutheran use different but compatible descriptions). And I am (slightly) offend by your suggestion that I reject scripture. Yes, I could give you my criteria - logical, semantic, literary and historical. But what I am interested in is your criteria - it is a part of a mind-set that I truly do not understand.

To put it in perspective, I've recently been reading Hicks (Church of Christ) and have come to respect much of what he has to say. I feel I could carry on a conversation with him with real understanding.  I can't say that I understand your understanding of literal vs. figurative - and I'd really like to.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Matthew C Jones | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Aug 16 2009 8:51 PM

MJ. Smith:
I genuinely am not seeking an argument - and transubstantiation is only one of at least 3 theological descriptions (Orthodox and Lutheran use different but compatible descriptions). And I am (slightly) offend by your suggestion that I reject scripture.

I'm sorry for offending you, even slightly.

When I ask why you "reject scripture" it is following your example of accepting some literally.  Some you take literally, some figuritively. Same formula for me and probably Aaron. (I better let him speak for himself.)

I guess what really surprises me is how I seem to agree with Erasmus more than most orthodox people on the forums.  Now Erasmus and Luther both knew they were in the right. At least one of them had to be wrong. Then there is Behemoth, 6 day creation,  Wikipedia's "List of logicians" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_logicians  .......not everbody can be right. My bets are on God.

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Mark | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Aug 16 2009 9:07 PM

VincentSetterholm:
there is a detailed summary of the rabbinical discussion of Behemoth in Ginsberg's Legends of the Jews that makes for a fairly interesting read (and don't skip the footnotes on this one - that's where the good stuff is). (http://www.logos.com/products/details/2999)

I have this resource but have had difficulty finding reference to Behemoth in the resource.  Could you elaborate more exactly where it can be found (what chapter etc)?

Much appreciated.

Mark

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John McComb | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Aug 16 2009 9:25 PM

 

Matthew C Jones:
I guess what really surprises me is how I seem to agree with Erasmus more than most orthodox people on the forums.  Now Erasmus and Luther both knew they were in the right. At least one of them had to be wrong. Then there is Behemoth, 6 day creation,  Wikipedia's "List of logicians" http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_logicians  .......not everbody can be right. My bets are on God.

Well that's good but I was kind of hoping that you would answer the question. Are Jesus' remarks about eating his flesh and drinking his blood in John 6 supposed to be taken literally or not and if not why not? There certainly isn't any mention of a parable anywhere in that discourse. Wasn't that the criteria you said was the deciding factor in making decisions like that?

Yours in Christ

John

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Matthew C Jones | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Aug 16 2009 10:33 PM

John McComb:

Well that's good but I was kind of hoping that you would answer the question. Are Jesus' remarks about eating his flesh and drinking his blood in John 6 supposed to be taken literally or not and if not why not? There certainly isn't any mention of a parable anywhere in that discourse. Wasn't that the criteria you said was the deciding factor in making decisions like that?

Nope, we are not to be caniballistic of our Lord.

I said - "If we can dismiss scriptural content as allegorical, metaphorical or parabolic when in fact the writ itself does not categorize it as such"

This passage catagorizes itself as metaphorical. In context, Christ likens himself to bread, specifically refering to manna. He draws contrast and comparison with the manna.

He also says the bread is flesh, another metaphor. He then commands blood drinking which if taken literally would be direct disobedience to the command not to drink blood. (A command given in the Law and reiterated by the Apostles.) We are left with one way to apply this scripture without God contradicting Himself. I agree with St Augustine who taught the sacrament is a symbolic, physical representation of a spiritual event.  


 

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Aaron Stevens | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Aug 16 2009 10:34 PM

MJ. Smith:

AaronStevens:
The reason is if you read Genesis, and do not believe what it says from the very first verse, than how can you rely and believe what the rest of the bible says

This Sunday's Gospel reading was from the Bread of Life Discourse in the Gospel of John. Do you apply the same sense of literal meaning to this passage?

John 6:51-58

51I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever; and the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” 52The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” 53So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. 54Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; 55for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. 56Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them. 57Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. 58This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like that which your ancestors ate, and they died. But the one who eats this bread will live forever.”

I ask because I suspect I take this passage more literally than you.  If you don't take it literally, what criteria do you use to determine that it is not lo be taken literally? I am genuinely interested in your answer - not spoiling for a fight.

That is a very good question and one that can (and is) taken and used for so many false beliefs. I can believe what it says because it is in God's word. We don't literally eat and drink his body and blood, this is where the catholics get their eucharist etc stuff from, which is totally wrong. I can't say this any better than this quote from John MacArthur from his 'New Testament Commentary John 1-11'. Sorry i know it is long.

 

The Pronouncement
“I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.” (6:51)
For the fifth time in this discourse (cf. vv. 33, 35, 48, 50), Jesus claimed to be the living bread that came down out of heaven. He then added the promise that if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. Here, as in verses 35 and 40, human responsibility to believe in Christ is in view (God’s sovereignty in salvation is taught in vv. 37, 39, 44, 65).
Ever the master teacher, Jesus used the simple, everyday routine of eating to communicate profound spiritual truth. The analogy of eating suggests five parallels to appropriating spiritual truth.
First, just as food is useless unless it is eaten, so also spiritual truth does no good if it is not internalized. Merely knowing the truth, without acting on it, both profits nothing (Heb. 4:2) and does not allow one to remain neutral (Luke 11:23). In fact, it will result in a more severe judgment (Luke 12:47–48; Heb. 10:29).
Second, eating is prompted by hunger; those who are full are not interested in food. In the same way, sinners who are satiated with their sin have no hunger for spiritual things (cf. Luke 5:31–32; 6:21). When God awakens them to their lost condition, however, the hunger for forgiveness, deliverance, peace, love, hope, and joy drives them to the Bread of Life.
Third, the food people eat becomes part of them through the operation of the body’s digestive system. So it is spiritually. People may admire Christ, be impressed with His teaching, and even bemoan His death on the cross as a great tragedy. But not until they appropriate Him by faith do they become one with Him (17:21; 1 Cor. 6:17; 2 Cor. 4:10; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 3:17).
Fourth, eating involves trust. No one knowingly eats tainted or spoiled food; the very act of eating implies faith that the food is edible (cf. Mark 7:15). Thus, the metaphor of eating the Bread of Life implies believing in Jesus.
Finally, eating is personal. No one can eat a meal for another; there is no such thing as eating by proxy. Nor is there salvation by proxy. In Psalm 49:7 the psalmist wrote, “No man can by any means redeem his brother or give to God a ransom for him.” Sinners must appropriate the Bread of Life as individuals to receive salvation and live forever (vv. 50, 58; 3:16; 8:51; 11:26; Rom. 8:13).
The Lord further defined the bread of life as that which He would voluntarily (10:18) give for the life of the world: His flesh (cf. 1:14). The concept of Jesus giving Himself sacrificially for sinners is a repeated New Testament theme (e.g., Matt. 20:28; Gal. 1:4; 2:20; Eph. 5:2, 25; 1 Tim. 2:6; Titus 2:14). The Lord referred prophetically here to His death on the cross (2 Cor. 5:21; Gal. 3:13; 1 Peter 2:24), one of many such predictions recorded in the gospels (John 2:19–22; 12:24; Matt. 12:40; 16:21; 17:22; 20:18; Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:33–34; Luke 9:22, 44; 18:31–33; 24:6–7). It is Jesus’ offering of His flesh that is the price of redemption. Had He merely come and proclaimed God’s standards, it would have left the human race in a hopeless predicament. Since no one can keep those standards, there would have been no way for sinners to have a relationship with God. But to make reconciliation between sinful man and holy God possible, “Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18; cf. 2:24; Isa. 53:4–6; Rom. 3:21–26; 2 Cor. 5:21).
Since “the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23) and “without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness” (Heb. 9:22), Christ became the final sacrifice for sin, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). His death, for all who believed and would believe, God accepted as the full payment for sin (Rom. 3:25–26; 4:25; Heb. 2:17; 1 John 2:2; 4:10), so that complete pardon was provided for the sins of all the penitent faithful (Acts 10:43; 13:38–39; Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14; 2:13–14; 1 John 1:9; 2:12).
The death of Christ was a real, genuine, actual satisfaction of divine justice. It was a true payment and atonement in full—actually, not potentially, paid to God by Christ on behalf of all who would ever believe, because they were chosen and redeemed by the power of God. The death of Christ was definite, particular, specific, and actual on behalf of God’s chosen people, limited in extent by His sovereign purposes, but unlimited in effect for all for whom it was rendered.
Redemption is the work of God. Christ died to accomplish it, not merely to make it possible and then finally accomplished when the sinner believes. The Bible does not teach that Jesus died for everyone potentially, but no one actually. On the contrary, Christ procured salvation for all whom God would call and justify; He actually paid the penalty in full for all who would ever believe. Sinners do not limit the atonement by their lack of faith; God does by His sovereign design.
Christ offered His flesh as a sacrifice not merely for Israel, but for the world (cf. 1:29; 4:42; 1 John 4:14). He died for people from all races, cultures, ethnic groups, and social strata (cf. Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:11). Thus God said in Isaiah 45:22, “Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth,” and Jesus commissioned the church to “make disciples of all the nations” (Matt. 28:19). The Lord also declared, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up; so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life” (John 3:14–15), and “I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself” (12:32). He is the only Savior for the world of lost sinners.
The Perplexity
Then the Jews began to argue with one another, saying, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” (6:52)
The Lord was obviously not talking about cannibalism when He spoke of eating His flesh. Rather, He was giving a physical illustration of a spiritual truth. Once again, however, the antagonistic Jews completely missed the significance of Jesus’ statement. As a result, they began to argue with one another. Argue translates a form of the verb machomai, which means “to fight,” or “to quarrel” (cf. Acts 7:26; 2 Tim. 2:24; James 4:2), indicating that it was a heated dispute. The discussion centered on the question, “How can this man give us His flesh to eat?” Blinded by the ignorance of their own unbelief, they were unable to understand the spiritual significance of which Jesus spoke (cf. v. 42; 3:4, 9; 4:11–12; 9:16; 12:34).
It should be noted that the Roman Catholic Church appeals to this passage as a proof of the doctrine of transubstantiation—the false teaching that the body and blood of Christ are literally present in the bread and wine of the Mass. Catholic theologian Ludwig Ott writes, “The body and the blood of Christ together with His soul and His divinity and therefore the whole Christ are truly present in the Eucharist” (Fundamentals of Catholic Dogma [St. Louis: B. Herder, 1954], 382). It is a false foundation for a false doctrine, however, to suggest that Jesus was referring to the Eucharist (Communion or the Lord’s Table) here, since He used the word sarx (flesh). A different word, sōma (“body”), appears in the passages referring to Communion (Matt. 26:26; Mark 14:22; Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 10:16; 11:24, 27). Two additional considerations reinforce the fact that this passage does not refer to Communion: First, the Lord’s Table had not yet been instituted; therefore, the Jews would not have understood what Jesus was talking about if He were speaking of Communion. Second, Jesus said that anyone who partakes of His flesh has eternal life. If that was a reference to the Lord’s Table, it would mean that eternal life could be gained through taking Communion. That is clearly foreign to Scripture, however, which teaches that Communion is for those who are already believers (1 Cor. 11:27–32) and that salvation is by faith alone (Eph. 2:8–9). (For further arguments against a sacramental interpretation of eating Christ’s flesh and drinking His blood, see D. A. Carson, The Gospel According to John, The Pillar New Testament Commentary [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1991], 296–98; for a critique of the Roman Catholic doctrine of the Mass, see James G. McCarthy, The Gospel According to Rome [Eugene, Ore.: Harvest House, 1995], chaps. 6–7.)
Both the Roman Catholic Church and Jesus’ Jewish opponents missed His point. As noted in the discussion of verse 51 above, the Lord was not speaking literally, but metaphorically to the people—encouraging them to appropriate Him by faith.
The Promises
So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me. This is the bread which came down out of heaven; not as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live forever.” These things He said in the synagogue as He taught in Capernaum. (6:53–59)
Although confronted with their willful unbelief, Jesus did not tone down, soften, or even clarify His words. Instead, He made His teaching even harder for them to swallow by adding the shocking concept of drinking His blood. To drink blood or eat meat with the blood still in it was strictly prohibited by the Old Testament law:
And any man from the house of Israel, or from the aliens who sojourn among them, who eats any blood, I will set My face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from among his people. For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you on the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood by reason of the life that makes atonement. Therefore I said to the sons of Israel, “No person among you may eat blood, nor may any alien who sojourns among you eat blood.” So when any man from the sons of Israel, or from the aliens who sojourn among them, in hunting catches a beast or a bird which may be eaten, he shall pour out its blood and cover it with earth. For as for the life of all flesh, its blood is identified with its life. Therefore I said to the sons of Israel, “You are not to eat the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood; whoever eats it shall be cut off.” (Lev. 17:10–14; cf. 7:26–27; Gen. 9:4; Deut. 12:16, 23–24; 15:23; Acts 15:29)
Jesus, of course, was not speaking of literally drinking the fluid in His veins any more than He was of literally eating His flesh. Both metaphors refer to the necessity of accepting Jesus’ sacrificial death. The New Testament frequently uses the term blood as a graphic metonym speaking of Christ’s death on the cross as the final sacrifice for sin (Matt. 26:28; Acts 20:28; Rom. 3:25; 5:9; 1 Cor. 11:25; Eph. 1:7; 2:13; Col. 1:20; Heb. 9:12, 14; 10:19, 29; 13:12; 1 Peter 1:2, 19; 1 John 1:7; Rev. 1:5; 5:9; 7:14; 12:11). His sacrifice was the one to which all of the Old Testament sacrifices pointed.
But the concept of a crucified Messiah was a major stumbling block for Israel. In response to the Lord’s declaration, “And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself” (John 12:32), “the crowd then answered Him, ‘We have heard out of the Law that the Christ is to remain forever; and how can You say, “The Son of Man must be lifted up?” ’ ” (v. 34). On the road to Emmaus, the resurrected Christ rebuked two of His disciples for their hesitancy to accept the necessity of His death: “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” (Luke 24:25–26). “We preach Christ crucified,” the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “to Jews a stumbling block” (1 Cor. 1:23), and in Galatians 5:11 he referred to the “the stumbling block of the cross.” Thus, the major thrust of Paul’s evangelistic message to the Jews at Thessalonica involved “explaining and giving evidence that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus whom I am proclaiming to you is the Christ’ ” (Acts 17:3).
It should be noted that the verbs translated eat and drink are aorists, not present tense verbs. That suggests a one-time appropriation of Christ at salvation, not the continual eating and drinking of His body and blood portrayed by the Roman Catholic Mass (see the discussion of v. 52 above).
In verses 53–56 Jesus made four promises to those who eat His flesh and drink His blood. The first one is expressed negatively; those who reject Jesus have no life in themselves. Conversely, then, those who appropriate Him by faith do have such life. They are guaranteed abundant spiritual life, even now, by the Lord Himself (5:24; 10:10).
The second promise is that the one who eats His flesh and drinks His blood has eternal life. The abundant life that believers experience in the present will not end with death, but will expand into completeness and last forever. That this verse does not describe a ritualistic act is obvious when it is compared with verse 40. The results in the two verses are the same: eternal life and resurrection. But in verse 40, those results come from beholding and believing in the Son, while in verse 54 they come from eating His flesh and drinking His blood. It follows, then, that the eating and drinking of verse 54 are parallel to the beholding and believing of verse 40.
The third promise, that Christ will raise up on the last day all who eat His flesh and drink His blood, is repeated here for the fourth time in this passage (vv. 39, 40, 44). The resurrection to everlasting life is the believer’s great hope (Acts 23:6; 24:15; cf. Titus 2:13; 1 Peter 1:3); apart from it, the Christian gospel is meaningless. To the Corinthians, some of whom were questioning the reality of the resurrection, Paul wrote,
Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain. Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, whom He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied. (1 Cor. 15:12–19)
Jesus introduced the fourth and final promise by declaring that His flesh is true food, and His blood is true drink—the sustenance that provides the very life of God to the believer. In light of that, the Lord declared, “He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him.” The promise here is that of union with Christ. In John 14:20 Jesus promised His disciples, “In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you.” In 15:5 the Lord declared, “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” “If anyone is in Christ,” Paul wrote, “he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Cor. 5:17). Later in that same epistle the apostle exhorted the Corinthians, “Test yourselves to see if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you—unless indeed you fail the test?” (2 Cor. 13:5). To the Galatians he wrote, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20). “Christ in you,” he reminded the Colossians, is “the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). In his first epistle the apostle John wrote, “We know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life” (1 John 5:20; cf. 2:24; 3:24; 4:13; John 17:21; Rom. 6:3–8; 8:10; 1 Cor. 1:30; 6:17; Eph. 3:17; Col. 2:10).
In verse 57 Jesus declared the source of His authority to make such promises: “the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.” Jesus had earlier stated, “As the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in Himself” (5:26). Therefore, those who believe in Jesus will live because of Him. Jesus has life in Himself; and believers also have life in Him.
The Lord concluded this magnificent teaching by repeating the thought of verses 49 and 50. The invitation is as clear today as it was that memorable day in the synagogue … in Capernaum. The one who pursues material things will die as surely as the rebellious Israelites died in the wilderness. But he who eats the bread which came down out of heaven … will live forever.

MacArthur, J. (2006). The MacArthur New Testament commentary : John 1-11 (257). Chicago: Moody Press.
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Matthew C Jones | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Aug 16 2009 10:53 PM

John McComb:
There certainly isn't any mention of a parable anywhere in that discourse. Wasn't that the criteria you said was the deciding factor in making decisions like that?

Any time a scriptural reading appears to violate or contradict another scriprural reading we are obviously misreading at least one of them. That is what I mean by labeling myself a literalist. I do believe the Bible contains allegories, parables, metaphors and literal statements.

Daniel's image is allegorical

Jesus as the livimg water = metaphor
Jesus as the bread of life = metaphor

Jesus walking on the water is literal.
Virgin birth of Christ is literal.
Bodily resurrection of Christ is literal

Each of these is catagorized by their own inherent content. 

 

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Aug 16 2009 11:05 PM

Matthew C Jones:
why you "reject scripture" it is following your example of accepting some literally.  Some you take literally, some figuritively.

I'm actually more comfortable with the phrase "plain meaning" - I try to read history as history, geneology as geneology, prophecy as prophecy, law as law, poetry as poetry, parable as parable ... when language is used figurative I want to read it figuratively, etc. ... I would plead guilty perhaps to failing to recognize language as it is used in the Hebrew original ... which is a long ways from "rejecting"

I can state reasons for taking a passage figuratively.  In the case of the first creation story in Genesis, some of the reasons (not as a fully developed logical argument which would take several pages)

1. The first Genesis story is one of several creation stories in Scripture. Said stories do not agree in details (sequence of events, for example), but they all agree that God is the creator - the most critical element for the salvation history story that we trace through all of scripture. The structure of the first creation story is pointed towards the 7th day - the sabbath and, perhaps, even the tabernacle/temple. I would, therefore, agree with you that Scripture begins with a pivotal story.

2. The term "day" is stated as not being applicable to God in the sense that it applies to people "a thousand years is as a day ..."; the Hebrew term translated "day" is used variously to mean period of daylight, period of time from one sundown to the next, an indefinite period of time etc. Jewish interpretation suggests that the light used to define the day was of a different order (at least until the sun was created - note that it is not until Gen 2:4 that earth is given priority over heaven i.e. "heaven and earth" vs "earth and heaven".

3. The structure of the first creation story is poetry patterned by repetitions - hence it is interpreted as poetry.

4. Humans are treated by God as thinking creatures... [long exposition on nature as pointing to God, rationality leading towards God etc.] there is no reason to assume God set the world up to trick us. Rather it is more likely that poetry uses figurative language.

5. And, yes, after a long argument as to why I would also appeal to tradition - the history of interpretation of the passage and the line of authority supporting the intepretation.

Criteria: (1) the apparent purpose of the passage in the whole of scripture (2) the usage of the word in question throughout the Hebrew scripture with all the typical philological stuff (3) genre of passage as determined by the structure and content of the passage (4) logical patterns based on other truths taught in scripture (5) history of interpretation and authority behind the history ...I could easily triple the list.

However, I honestly am not interested in establishing right or wrong - I just want to understand how you came to the conclusion that Genesis 1 is literal and John 6 is figurative (an assumption from your original post).  Both Erasmus and Luther explained well why they came to their conclusions and I understand why they differed. Several of the major splits I understand, although I haven't studied Calvin sufficiently yet to really grasp his thought.

 

 

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Sun, Aug 16 2009 11:09 PM

Matthew C Jones:
Each of these is catagorized by their own inherent content.

Thank you. This is definitely a step in the right direction for helping me to understand your view and helps me formulate questions going deeper into our differences.

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George Somsel | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 17 2009 12:43 AM

Matthew C Jones:
This passage catagorizes itself as metaphorical. In context, Christ likens himself to bread, specifically refering to manna. He draws contrast and comparison with the manna.

Just where does it do that?  Personally, I don't hold to transubstantiation or consubstantiation either but to the Reformed position that Christ is spiritually present by faith, but nevertheless it doesn't give any indication that this is metaphorical (other than common sense).  Jesus says "I AM the bread of life."  You can't simply pick and choose when you wish something to be literal and when you wish it to be figurative willy-nilly.  You must have some principle.  I think  M. J. has the better of you here. 

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Vincent Setterholm | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 17 2009 12:49 AM

MarkSwaim:
I have this resource but have had difficulty finding reference to Behemoth in the resource.  Could you elaborate more exactly where it can be found (what chapter etc)?

Search for 'Behemot' without the h. In modern Hebrew, the tav (taw) is always 't', never 'th'.

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Milford Charles Murray | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 17 2009 1:02 AM

Matthew C Jones:

:

 We are left with one way to apply this scripture without God contradicting Himself. I agree with St Augustine who taught the sacrament is a symbolic, physical representation of a spiritual event.  


 

 

Peace to you, Matthew (Gift of God!)       *smile*         And Joy!

     Please, I would really appreciate your sharing where in St. Augustine he taught that "the sacrament is a symbolic, physical representation of a spiritual event." 

Having studied St. Augustine, I find myself unaware of that teaching.  Would really like to look that up!

Yours in Christ,

   ...    Mel

Philippians 4:  4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand..........

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 17 2009 1:09 AM

AaronStevens:
We don't literally eat and drink his body and blood, this is where the catholics get their eucharist etc stuff from, which is totally wrong.

Any self-respecting Catholic would begin a discussion of the real presence with the institution narrative of the last supper just as they would begin a discussion of the structure of Sunday worship with the story on the road to Emmaus followed by the heavenly liturgy in Revelation.

I am honestly not trying to have that discussion. What I am trying to understand is the critieria for literal vs. figurative language of those who insist that the days of Genesis 1 must be 24 hours.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 17 2009 1:22 AM

Milford Charles Murray:
Having studied St. Augustine, I find myself unaware of that teaching.

May I suggest:

"Aug., Ep. 54, 7 : "And as they were eating," whereby it is clearly seen that at their first partaking of the Lord's Body and Blood, the disciples did not partake fasting. But are we therefore to except against the practice of the whole Church, of receiving fasting? It has seemed good to the Holy Ghost, that for the better honour of so great a Sacrament, the Lord`s Body should enter the Christian's mouth before other food. For to commend more mightily the depth of this mystery, the Saviour chose this as the last thing He would imprint on the hearts and memory of His disciples, from whom He was to depart to His Passion. But He did not direct in what order it should thenceforth be taken, that He might reserve that for the Apostles by whom He would regulate His Church.

Thomas Aquinas. Catena Aurea - Gospel of Matthew (620). Joseph Kreifels."

I apologize - I have tried very hard to stay focused on the question I originally asked and not get dragged into a discussion of sacramental theology.  But, yes, Mel, I couldn't ignore the bait.  Oops, I goofed! this seems to reflect the opposite - the standard Catholic/Orthodox/Lutheran/Anglo-Catholic view Angel

Seriously, there are some quotes supporting the spiritual aspect:

While St. Augustine (died 430) can be quoted to support various views of the Lord's Supper, he apparently accepted the widespread realism theory of his time,15 though in some passages he clearly describes the Lord's Supper as a spiritual eating and drinking.16

# Cited by Kelly, pp. 446-448, Augustine, Enarr. in ps. 3, 1; 98, 9; Serm. 131, 1; tract. in ev. Ioh. 27, 5; 25, 12; 26, 1.

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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Matthew C Jones | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 17 2009 9:19 AM

George Somsel:
Just where does it do that? 

v51a "I am the living bread that came down from heaven."  As opposed to dead (real) bread.
v52   The Jews obviously have a problem with a literal interpretation of eating Jesus.
V53   So Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you." Here Jesus speaks to living, breathing, logical humans telling them they are not alive unless they partake of him. Either Jesus definition of "life" is different than the Jews or the unbelieving zombies forgot to fall down when they died.
V54   "Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life," Now we know he is talking of the spiritual., since physical life comes to an end.
V55   "for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink."  As opposed to false food and false drink.  (Matthew 4:4)
V57   "Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me."  Man became spiritually dead on the day he ate of the fruit in the Garden. (otherwise God lied to Adam and Satan told the truth.) Here Jesus offers a quickening to fallen man. Jesus is the living bread. The living Father sent him. Jesus will make us alive. This is obviously spriritual language.
V58   Here Jesus contrasts manna to the living bread. In the spiritual realm manna is insufficient even though God provided it to Israel. God met the temporal needs with manna. He meets the spiritual needs with Jesus. 

My guiding principle here is - If a literal interpretation confllicts with other scripture we need to look deeper. I do know of instances where the literal is true as well as a deeper message. Isaiah's  prophecy "a young woman shall concieve" is an example of this. It's not willy-nilly. Jesus being the living bread, you might say, metaphorically speaking Mary had a bun in the oven.   Tongue Tied  (For those who may not be familiar with American idioms, that means Mary was pregnant.)

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Mark | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 17 2009 11:16 AM

VincentSetterholm:
Search for 'Behemot' without the h. In modern Hebrew, the tav (taw) is always 't', never 'th'.

 

Thanks.  Quite interesting reading

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 17 2009 12:11 PM

Matthew C Jones:
If a literal interpretation confllicts with other scripture we need to look deeper.

Again, this is a statement I can work with ... here is a sound principle that I agree with. Unfortunately, I have also learned that my question was apparently not well formed to obtain the information I sought.  I would say that there are passages that conflict with Genesis 1 as literal and that there are passages that conflict with John 6 if it is taken as figurative.

I think that I will carry two things away from this discussion:

1) that historically (according to scholars on both sides of the John 6 issue) real presence was simply the accepted view up to the 9th century when it started to be debated and common vocabulary created - something I'd never checked into before.

2) that the sola scriptura group is a collection of splinter groups using sound principles to come to varying positions (24 hour days vs. period of time) which appear to boil down to what I would call authority and tradition ... i.e. what one has been taught it means is what one believes it to mean. One major difference between the sola scriptura groups and the Catholic/Orthodox groups is that the latter make the authority and tradition explicit; in the former it is implicit.

Note: I do not mean "splinter group" in a negative sense - merely that there are a large number of groups that have varying views of what the Bible says. According to Christianity Today "There are approximately 38,000 Christian denominations in the world. (Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (2006))". 

Moral: my collection and classification of creeds will never be done. [Okay, that a 3rd thing]

Orthodox Bishop Hilarion Alfeyev: "To be a theologian means to have experience of a personal encounter with God through prayer and worship."

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MJ. Smith | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 17 2009 12:32 PM

Matthew C Jones:
contrasts manna to the living bread

Isn't this a standard type/antitype construction?

Matthew C Jones:
This is obviously spriritual language.

"Obviously" is a marker for an underlying assumption that one considers to be self-evident. It is that underlying assumption I am trying to grasp.

Since I do not understand where "spiritual language" falls on the "literal language - figurative language" spectrum, I don't have a clue as to what you are trying to say. To guess at its meaning, I would have to fall back on the Jewish-Catholic-(marginally Orthodox) tradition of the four senses of scripture which clearly you don't mean. Why do I say "marginally Orthodox" - because typology flourished in Antioch and, hence, was a primary influence in the East. "Four senses" flourished in Alexandria and , hence, was a primary influence in the West. See The Power of the Word: In the Worshiping Church by John Breck.

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Matthew C Jones | Forum Activity | Replied: Mon, Aug 17 2009 3:46 PM

MJ. Smith:
I would say that there are passages that conflict with Genesis 1 as literal and that there are passages that conflict with John 6 if it is taken as figurative.

 I quote my earlier post: "Any time a scriptural reading appears to violate or contradict another scriprural reading we are obviously misreading at least one of them."

MJ. Smith:

2) that the sola scriptura group is a collection of splinter groups using sound principles to come to varying positions (24 hour days vs. period of time) which appear to boil down to what I would call authority and tradition ... i.e. what one has been taught it means is what one believes it to mean. One major difference between the sola scriptura groups and the Catholic/Orthodox groups is that the latter make the authority and tradition explicit; in the former it is implicit.

Reasonably true but a generalization.  I disagree with the blue text. I think it safer to say a true adherant to sola scriptura would devote themselves to constant self-examination in light of scripture and correct any newly revealed error they may have held to, including error they had been taught. I know I have made several drastic adjustmets in my adult life. I expect I will make a few more  That is on an individualistic basis. The splinter groups do as exactly as you say.you say. But most sola scriptura adherents believe in the priesthood of all believers.

Since the majority of disagreements among Bible readers are not on doctrines essential to salvation I am presently comfortable with my methods of Biblical hermeneutics.

FYI:  In a nutshell,  I could easily endorse the wording of the Apostles' Creed, even the use of "catholic" (with a small "c" meaning universal.) I was raised Independent Christian Church (Alexander Campbell, et al.) They basically have two creeds: "Where the Bible speaks we speak. Where the Bible is silent, we are silent" and humorously "No creed but the Bible."

 

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